San Diego is a vibrant city that celebrates festivals and holidays from around the world, including the Chinese New Year. As one of the oldest and most important festivals in Chinese culture, it marks the beginning of a new lunar year.
The celebration usually begins with the lighting of firecrackers, symbolizing good luck and prosperity. Parades featuring traditional Chinese lion dances and music are held throughout the city.
One of the most popular activities is shopping for traditional New Year’s decorations such as paper lanterns, symbolic red banners, and lucky charms to hang around the house.
During Chinese New Year, visitors can enjoy special Chinese performances such as kung-fu demonstrations, acrobatics shows, traditional Chinese music concerts and more.
The fair takes place each February in downtown San Diego, on Third and J Street. The two-day event attracts more than 25,000 people.
It’s presented by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of San Diego and has been held annually since the early 1980s.
I was lucky enough to be in San Diego several years back for the city’s annual Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair. It was the year of the dragon, so the festivities featured lots and lots of dragons.
Sights from the Lunar New Year Celebration in San Diego
I love cultural events like this. Various performance acts took the stage throughout the day, including these eye-catching slithering dragons that were like giant puppets with humans inside them.
Oh snap, it’s the year of the dragon! Don’t feed this dragon.
This group of Chinese ladies provided traditional song and dance. I really enjoyed their harmonies and their matching outfits.
The host joked that their average age was 27. Ok, so it was more like 67. It’s great to see older generations doing their best to pass on their cultural traditions.
A lot of visitors had fun with this statue of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang, outside the Chinese Historical Museum.
Purchase your favorite animal trinket. Or your own Buddha. There were various types to choose from, depending on which qualities are most important to you.
Would you prefer Happy Buddha, Money Buddha, or Longevity Buddha? (I want all three!)
What’s a festival without yummy food vendors?
A look behind the food tents as two women cook up something special for the lunar new year.
The Naruwan Taiko Drummers were like an ethnic Blue Man Group, beating out intoxicating rhythms on a number of large drums.