San Diego is home to several significant Lunar New Year events worth attending for those who would like to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.

Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year if you are of Chinese heritage) is celebrated in China, Vietnam, Korea, Mongolia, Singapore, Tibet, and by the many emigrants all over the world from these countries.

The date is based on the lunisolar calendar, which this year is February 1, 2022.

The holiday is incredibly important in our home as my daughter is proud to have been born in Hong Kong during the Year of the Golden Pig. It is by far the most important celebration there, lasting 15 days, though typically only three of those days are public holidays.

Without further ado, here is a list of Lunar New Year events in San Diego.

Lunar New Year Charity Gala at Jasmine Seafood

The San Diego United Lions Club’s Lunar New Year Charity Gala is an annual event that many in San Diego look forward to. Proceeds support the San Diego United Lions Club charitable projects worldwide. 

  • Friday, January 28, 2022
  • Happy Hour: 5:30-630 and Dinner Gala: 6:30-9:30
  • Buy Tickets: $65 or $600 (Table of 10)

The popular dim sum restaurant also usually hosts lion dances throughout the month, which are fun for families. We bring lai see (traditional red envelopes with dollar bills inside) for good luck and to support the student lion troupe and their organization.

Annual San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair

The annual San Diego Chinese New Year Fair hosted by the San Diego Chinese Center spans two days. It’s held on Third Avenue and J Street in downtown San Diego’s old Chinatown.

Attendees shop handicrafts, eat tons of traditional food, and enjoy live entertainment ranging from acrobats to traditional Chinese music performances. You’ll also be treated to a lantern parade and children’s crafts.

  • Saturday, February 12 and Sunday, February 13
  • 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on both days
  • Free to enter

Annual San Diego Tet Festival

This annual Tet festival hosts several competitions, including a Miss Vietnam of San Diego pageant, a pho eating contest, a Golden Voice competition, and kids’ opportunity to share their knowledge about Vietnamese culture.

Guests can also look forward to Vietnamese food, carnival rides and games, firecrackers, and lion dances. The location is Mira Mesa Community Park.

  • February 4–6, 2022
  • 5-10 p.m. (Friday), 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (Saturday) and 11 a.m.–6 or 9 p.m. (Sunday)
  • sdtet.com
  • Free to watch

Please note that participants 18 years of age and older will be required to provide proof of vaccination and ID or a negative COVID-19 test and ID to enter.

House of China’s Chinese New Year Fair

Join the House of China, part of the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park, for a Chinese New Year celebration complete with lion dances, Chinese performances, Chinese food, crafts, calligraphy, and more.

How do you celebrate Lunar New Year in San Diego? If there are activities that I’ve missed, please leave them in the comments.

Note: Lunar New Year at SeaWorld San Diego

It appears that this event isn’t on offer in 2022.

Celebrate Chinese New Year on Your Own at Home

Chinese New Year is an important holiday in our house. In fact, I’m headed to 99 Ranch for our usual stash of candy and dried fruit, part of a traditional eight-part Tray of Togetherness to snack from throughout the season (I’ll share details for what to include shortly).

You can also celebrate at home with crafts. In addition to the resources provided in the link to the Japanese Friendship Garden above, I have easy instructions for how to make a paper lantern and a list of free Chinese New Year printables.

You can also use the opportunity to leave bowls of citrus on the table for the family to eat or even put Chinese New Year citrus trees on each side of your doorstep.

It’s also fun to put together Chinese New Year red envelopes for the kids in your life. You can order red envelopes on Amazon or find them at markets like 99 Ranch.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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2 Comments

  1. If you want to build a deeper understanding of Chinese New Year traditions, the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum is offering several exciting exhibits that are fun and informative for the whole family. In the Sun Yat-Sen Extension building, Chris Lowe has installed an exhibit about how to build and refurbish the lion heads used in the traditional New Year’s lion dance. You can see the lions dancing during the Chinese New Year Festival on the street outside, then step inside and see how the costumes are made. The exhibit also includes exquisite hand-painted paper cut-outs of festive New Year designs and traditional Chinese New Year Prints. In the Chuang Archive and Learning Center, you can say goodbye to the Year of the Horse with Jack Liang’s Spirit of the Celestial Horse: Forging Chinese Painting into a New Frontier, an exhibit that puts a new twist on traditional Chinese painting. All of these exhibits are on display now until the end of February and are included in the museum’s regular $2 admission, free for children 12 and under.