Chinese New Year in San Francisco Events: In the California city, celebrations extend from Jan. 24 through the middle of February.

Travel Q&A

November 16, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

I am visiting San Francisco in mid-February. Will I be able to catch some of the festivities surrounding the Chinese New Year?

The lunar year 4696, the Year of the Tiger, begins Jan. 28, so you will miss the actual turning of the calendar, but Chinese New Year festivities last more than two weeks, so you may be in San Francisco for some of them.

The annual celebration culminates with the San Francisco Chronicle Chinese New Year Parade on Feb. 14. The highlight of the event is Gum Long, the 160-foot golden dragon symbolizing strength, adventure, courage and prosperity that writhes through the streets amid a cacophony of firecrackers. Standing room along the route is free, but bleacher seats at Kearny Street and Union Square are $20. Information: 415-391-9680.

Also that weekend, the Chinese Community Fair will offer crafts like light and lantern making, arts demonstrations, folk dancing and puppet shows.

The Spring Festival, sometimes called the Lantern Festival, is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the new year. The Chinese Culture Center will sponsor it on Feb. 14-15 at 750 Kearny St., with free performances of folk songs and dances, lion dances and martial arts, and arts and crafts and food. Information: 415-986-1822.

The New Year festivities will start Jan. 24-25 with the Flower Fair on Grant and Pacific avenues. This and the New Year Carnival Street Fair, Jan. 28 to Feb. 12, at Walter U. Lum Place, Washington and Clay streets, are free. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce has more information: 415-982-3000.

Of more recent provenance is the YMCA's Chinese New Year 10K road race, which will head through Chinatown to Fisherman's Wharf at 8 a.m. Feb. 8. There will also be a 5K race and a walking event. Until Jan. 9, it costs $20 to enter; thereafter, it's $25. Call Peter Chong at 415-982-4412.

It would be great fun to greet the year 2000 before most people have a chance to. Are there any special events planned on the Pacific islands on the the international date line?

The one island the date line literally crosses (at 180 degrees longitude) and thus would be first to see a sunrise in the next century is Fiji. Festivities being planned for New Year's Eve 1999 and New Year's Day 2000 include a weeklong Celebration of Planet Earth, a festival of world music, dance and arts. A time capsule will be sealed to await opening in 1,000 years. The island plans a "global dance party," mirroring an event in Greenwich, England -- exactly half a world away -- sharing the same video and soundtrack via satellite. And Fijians are planning a midnight fire ceremony, in which the hilltops will be lighted as a complement to traditional Chinese fireworks.

Contact the Fiji Visitors Bureau at 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 220, Los Angeles, Calif. 90045; 800-932-3454, or go to the Web at www.fijiislands.org.

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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