Ride in the Year of the Dragon

Red and gold fever has struck the Bay Area, and its not just Niners fans showing their pride.

Today’s new moon commences the Year of Dragon, year 4710 of the Chinese lunar calendar. Which means it’s time to light firecrackers dangerously close to your body, overdose on moon cakes and make out like a bandit with pockets stuffed full of red and gold lucky envelopes.

For the next couple weeks, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indonesian communities which observe the lunar calendar are ringing in the new year with a series of events in the Bay Area. So grab an ice cold Tsing Tao and check out SFBay’s guide on where to ride in the Year of the Dragon.

Sunday, Jan. 29

The SF Zoo hosts 2012 Year of the Dragon, a family-friendly Lunar New Year event with a self-guided tour and scavenger hunt that introduces you to the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Survivors walk away with a prize red envelope with a little somethin’-somethin’ special inside. Live entertainment includes performances from Chinese acrobats and traditional Lion and folk dancers.

San Francisco Zoo
Sloat Blvd. & the Great Highway, SF
Activities free with zoo admission, with free zoo entrance if you’re born in the Year of the Dragon (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
(415) 753-7080
 

Saturday, Feb. 4

The finest Asian American ladies will be strutting their stuff and vying for your affection at the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. Each contestant will battle in a contest of beauty, talent and brains for the right to become a goodwill ambassador for the Chinese community throughout America.

Palace of Fine Arts Theater
3301 Lyon St., SF
$35-$65
7:30 p.m.
(415) 982-3000
 

Saturday, Feb. 11

Button up your finest silk cheongsam or put on your fancy pants for a night of live traditional music and dance from featured performers with the San Francisco Symphony. The  Chinese New Year Community Concert and Celebration 2012 kicks off with a reception party that includes performances from Dan the Magic Man, acrobats, stilt-walkers and contortionists.

Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave, SF
$15-$68
Reception begins at 3 p.m.
(415) 864-6000
 

The streets of Chinatown this weekend become more crowded than usual as the Chinatown Community Street Fair takes over. Demonstrations in calligraphy, lantern and kite-making, lion  dancing and acrobatics will whet your appetite for tonight’s New Year parade.  Approximately 500,000 people are expected to attend.

Free
Feb. 11 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Feb. 12 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade, a tradition that began just after the Gold Rush, makes its annual procession tonight with more than 100 participating units. The star of the show is Gum Lung, the 250′-long dragon that is manned by more than 100 martial artists. The celebration also promises fancy floats, lion dancers and an appearance by the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA. The parade takes place rain or shine.

Parade begins at 2nd and Market, SF
Free, or $30 for bleacher seats
5:15 p.m.