Lunar New Year in San Diego (updated for 2018)

2015 was my first time celebrating Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year to some), and I had an amazing time. My friend invited a bunch of us out to dim sum on a Sunday morning. The food was amazing, the place was packed with families all giving off a festive vibe, and there was even a lion dance performance by a local community group.

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There are a number of ways to celebrate 2018, the year of the dog:

February 9–11: Lunar New Year Tết Festival

This event is the first of three consecutive New Year festivals. This event looks really large and really impressive. Held at The Q, it offers the most food vendors and entertainment, and carnival rides. SDCCU (Qualcomm) Stadium. Tickets online and at the door.

February 16–18: San Diego Tết Festival

There will be two entertainment stages as well as the Miss Vietnam San Diego pageant. And of course, street food. Free entry, Mira Mesa Community Park.

February 24–25: San Diego Chinese New Year Fair

San Diego’s small Chinatown district is making distinct efforts to assert itself as a true cultural hub and heritage center. This event promises street food, dances, a parade, and children’s crafts. Free entry, downtown on 3rd & J.

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If you’d prefer to celebrate Lunar New Year by simply gathering a group of friends and stuffing yourself full of dim sum, make a reservation at Jasmine or Dumpling Inn (in the Convoy area of San Diego). If you’ve never had dim sum before, you are in for a treat. It’s Chinese small plates (dumplings and more). The food gets wheeled around the tables in a steam cart and you simply indicate what you want. The servers use a stamp sheet to keep track of what you’ve had and tally your bill. Check the restaurant event schedule so you will know if and when they’re having the traditional lion dance. Remember to bring cash (small bills) to tip the dancers with red envelopes!
Top photo credit Pixabay user lme007.

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