When Chinese immigrants began pouring into San Francisco  in the 19th century, they brought their culture with them. One of the most important (and most fun) traditions the Chinese gave us is the Southwest Chinese New Year Festival and Parade (www.chineseparade.com , $30 parade bleacher seating). Cast off the weariness and bad luck of the old year, and come party with the dragons to celebrate the new!
Chinese New Year is a major cultural event in San Francisco  — schoolchildren of all races are taught the significance of the dancing dragons and the little red envelopes. The parade, with its costumed fan dancers and stunning handmade multicolored dragon’s heads, is one of the most beautiful in the world.
It’s got more history than almost any other California celebration; the parades and festival events began in the 1860s, helping to bring a few days of joy to a Chinese population feeling the hardships of a life thousands of miles from home. Today, crowds in the tens of thousands join to help bring in the new year towards the end of January or the beginning of February each annum (on the Western calendar).