It's the year of the female water snake! Best ways to celebrate this weekend

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HISS HISS HISS HISS HISS

Mystery, divination, revelation will all mark 2013 if you believe in age-old Chinese astrology. We've entered the year of the female (yin) water snake -- time to get over from the brash dragon year of 2012, thank Gaia. The actual start of the Chinese New Year was on Feb. 10, but the bulk of San Francisco's festivities take place this weekend -- including the red-and-gold parade juggarnaut that'll swamp downtown starting at 5:15pm at Second Street and Market, Sat/23. Don red for good luck, and slither on down to the parade route (or Verdi Club, depending on your celebration perogative.)

[Many thanks to Johnny Funcheap for his ever-useful round-up of affordably-priced local events, which proved indispensable in assembling this list]

Lion Dance Party

We're not sure if promotors of this party saved the "Harlem Shake" meme with their promotional video, but the night does look damn tasty. Pop-up Vietnamese cafe Rice Paper Scissors hosts this culmination of its Vietnamese-Chinese New Year event series, pop rules the dancefloor, and professional lion dancers from Chung Ngai Dance Troupe make the thing seasonal. 

Fri/22, 8pm-1am, $10-15. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa, SF. Facebook event

Chinatown Community Street Fair

Learn about lantern and kite-making, take in a puppet show or folkdance set or two, and shop at this explosion of vendors and artists that takes over Chinatown the weekend of the big New Year parade. 

Sat/23, 10am-4:30pm, free. 733 Kearny, SF. www.sanfranciscochinatown.com

Chinese Historical Society celebrates the New Year

Those looking for indoor learnin' on parade day should head to the Chinese Historical Society, which is in the thick of celebrating its 50th anniversary. Today, artist Frank Wong will offer a tour of his exhibition at the museum, there's a special display of children's Chinese New Year Hats, kids crafts, a 3pm concert for the lil' ones, and at 1pm, a lion dance performed by the Society's troupe itself. 

Sat/23, 11am-4pm, free. Chinese Historical Society, 965 Clay, SF. www.chsa.org

Chinese Culture Center Spring Fair

Browse the Center's new "Moment for Ink" exhibit, highlighting ink works by artists from all kinds of backgrounds, and sit in on one of these creatives, artist Justin Hoover, while he orchestrates a workshop about his paperbound creations. 

Sat/23, 1-4pm, free. Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny, SF. www.c-c-c.org

Storytelling at the Westfield

Folktale-tellers from the Asian Art Museum will entertain families with Chinese legends, while newcomer to the mall David's Teas dishes out complimentary cuppas. 

Sat/23 and Saturdays through April 27, 11:30am-noon and 1-1:30pm, free. Westfield Centre, level two near Bloomingdale's, 845 Market, SF. www.westfield.com

"Transformations and Renewals" Chinese history aboard the Balclutha

A poetry reading aboard a historic ship may be the best chance you have this weekend to learn about Chinese history here in the Bay Area. Chinese Whispers, a group that chronicles oral history sponsors this line-up of presentations on California Chinese culture through the ages, tours through the ship's recreated living quarters for Chinese cannery workers, and games that teach about little-known eras along the timeline of the Bay Area. 

Sat/23, 2:30-4:30pm, $5. Balclutha, Hyde Street Pier, SF. www.chinese-whispers.org