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The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade is Saturday. Here's what to know.

San Francisco gears up for the Chinese New Year Parade
San Francisco gears up for the Chinese New Year Parade 02:23

Tens of thousands of people will descend on San Francisco this Saturday to enjoy the annual Chinese New Year Parade that kicks off early that evening.

This year's parade celebrates the Year of the Dragon. The annual parade in San Francisco is believed to be the largest such celebration outside of China. There will also be a two-day Community Street Fair held in San Francisco's Chinatown. The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with more than 120 booths and concessions as well as an entertainment stage located on Pacific Avenue below Grant Avenue, according to organizers.

When and where does the parade start?

The Chinese New Year Parade begins at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. The parade starts at 2nd and Market St. and proceeds via Market to Geary, turning right onto Powell and then Post before turning left and proceeding down Kearny to Columbus where it will disband between Pacific and Washington. The parade staging area is on Market St. from 2nd to Beale, Second Street from Market to Mission, and Main Street from Market to Harrison. The distance of the parade route is approximately 1.3 miles and the procession takes approximately 2.5 hours from start to finish.

SF Chinese New Year Parade route map
SF Chinese New Year Parade route map

While there is space to watch the free parade from sidewalks along the route, many families opt to purchase seats in the bleacher sections that are set up at several points along the route. The bleacher sections are located at Geary between Stockton and Powell, Post between Grant and Kearny and two sections on Kearny between California and Sacramento and Washington and Jackson. Bleacher tickets must be purchased in advance online to sit in the bleacher sections, but those tickets are already sold out. Officials note that the route gets more crowded as the parade gets closer to Chinatown.

Who is appearing in the parade?

The actress and comedian Awkwafina is the grand marshal of this year's parade. She appeared in the indie family drama "The Farewell" (a role that earned her a Golden Globe, a first for an Asian actress), the hit comedy "Crazy Rich Asians," her own Comedy  Central series "Awkwafina is Nora from Queens" and the current Hulu comedy "Quiz Lady." She will be starring in the forthcoming Dreamworks Animation film "Kung Fu Panda 4." Two-term Mayor of San Francisco and longtime Speaker of the California State Assembly Willie Brown will serve as Honorary Marshal. A number of other local politicians and entertainers are expected to attend.  

How will the parade impact traffic?

A number of streets in the Financial District will be closed for parade staging and for the parade itself, according to the SFMTA. The streets will reopen after the parade is clear and streets are cleaned, at approximately 9:30 p.m. The following streets will be closed to traffic beginning at the specified times:

2nd St. between Market and Mission2 p.m.
Market between 2nd St & Geary3 p.m.
Geary between Market and Powell3 p.m.
Powell between Geary and Post3 p.m.
Post between Kearny to Powell3 p.m.
Kearny between Geary and Pacific3 p.m.

There will be no street parking allowed along the parade route, which will impact parking and traffic throughout downtown starting early Saturday afternoon. Parking will be available at public garages located in Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. Drivers are advised to avoid the area for the most of the day due to the scheduled street closures and anticipated traffic congestion.

People attending the parade are advised to use public transportation. The closest BART and Muni Metro station to the start of the parade route is Montgomery Station. The Powell Station is also nearby. Muni service will be free-of-charge for the duration of service on Feb. 24, though passengers will still be required to pay full fair to use cable cars. Passengers riding Muni Metro and bus lines are advised to not tag their Clipper cards.

Many downtown Muni routes will reroute or switchback -- changing from inbound to outbound. Additionally, most Market St. routes will operate on Mission St. instead. Routes that cross Market St. will be rerouted around the event areas. Reroutes for parade closures begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A complete list of impacted bus, streetcar and cable car lines is available at the SFMTA website. The Chinese New Year Parade website also offers transit information. A map of the rerouted lines through the area appears below.   

SF Muni Chinese New Year Parade reroutes
SF Muni Chinese New Year Parade reroutes SFMTA

More information about the festivities can be found at

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