5 Annual Festivals to Check Out in San Francisco

San Francisco is a city known for its exciting annual festivals. If you will be visiting the area and plan to attend any of these events, remember to book your stay at one of San Francisco’s best IHG hotels early so you don’t miss these memorable celebrations.

Welcome the Chinese New Year

Image via Flickr by sfmission.com

The Chinese New Year Festival & Parade celebrates the Lunar New Year. Usually held in February, this illuminated parade features vibrant floats, costumes, and fireworks. The parade, voted one of the top 10 parades in the world by the International Festivals & Events Association, winds its way throughout historic Chinatown. One popular feature is the 288-foot Golden Dragon, which requires more than 180 martial artists to carry it throughout the parade route.

Visitors can watch the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. pageant, with the newly appointed queen and her court participating in the parade and serving as goodwill ambassadors for the Chinese-American community throughout the year. Attendees can also attend the Flower Market Fair, where they can buy fruits, flowers, and candles while enjoying performances of Chinese magicians, acrobats, and folk dancers.

Be Irish for a Day

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, held at the Civic Center Plaza, celebrates Irish history and culture. Attendees enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts exhibitions, food and beverage concessions, and booths representing the Irish community.

The parade is the largest St. Patrick’s Day event west of the Mississippi. It includes floats, traditional Irish dancing, and marching bands and is made up of more than 5,000 participants from all over the U.S.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Image via Flickr by maywong_photos

At the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, visitors stroll the galleries and view designer gardens, flowers, and plants. Each spring, thousands of attendees watch demonstrations by world-class floral designers and speak with professional gardeners.

The popular Plant Market allows visitors to purchase plants, flowers, and other unique items. Attendees can also attend a variety of seminars and workshops with subjects ranging from “Improving Your Soil Quality” to “Creating Artistic Urban Habitats.”

Celebrate Japanese Culture

Image via Flickr by kennejima

Each April, more than 200,000 people attend the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival and celebrate Japanese culture in America. The blooming cherry blossoms are the main attraction, but many other events are held in conjunction with this festival. Visitors enjoy performances of live music and martial arts and dine at the many food booths.

This festival includes the Grand Parade, beginning at City Hall and ending in Japantown. This parade features Japanese classical and folk dancers, colorful floats, and the San Francisco Taru Mikoshi, a portable shrine weighing over 1,000 pounds and requiring nearly 160 people to carry it.

Enjoy the Music of Union Street

For more than 40 years, attendees of the Union Street Music Festival have enjoyed live music showcasing jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, and local bands. The festival includes arts and crafts exhibitors, diverse foods and beverages, and community groups.

Held each June in the Marina District, the party takes up five blocks of Union Street, where historic Victorian homes have been converted into art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.

Whether you’re planning a vacation or traveling for work, get the most out of your trip by attending one of these annual festivals.

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