San Diego Lunar New Year Festival returns to City Heights for three-day in-person celebration
Lunar New Year, which was officially recognized by California in 2019, is a holiday celebrated primarily by Asian countries. Usually held in late January or early February, the tradition marks the start of the spring season according to the lunar calendar.
In 2010, the Little Saigon San Diego Foundation launched the San Diego Lunar New Year Festival as a four-hour event in the parking lot of Hoover High School. In addition to honoring the Lunar New Year, the San Diego event aims to increase cultural awareness in the Vietnamese community as well as support local artists, artists and businesses.
The festival has grown significantly over the past decade, and its location has bounced around the city, including six years at the now-closed San Diego County Credit Union Stadium in Mission Valley. Last year, the festival used a hybrid approach due to COVID-19, which included socially distanced performances outside of businesses and virtual viewing options.
For 2022, the festival returns to its usual format and original playground of City Heights. However, event organizers note that it will be “smaller and cozier” than in previous years, due to COVID-19 restrictions and park space constraints. And due to its new location, the event will waive its $5 entry fee and be free to all attendees.
There will be a stacked lineup of live entertainment during the three-day event, including a firecracker show, lion and dragon dances, martial arts performances, musical performances and guest speakers. There will also be singers from Southern Vietnamese folk opera and Vietnamese classical opera, as well as local groups like UCSD Chinese Dance, San Diego Japanese Hula Club and Samahan Filipino American Performance Arts. (Note that the entertainment schedule is tentative and some performers are subject to change.)
Everywhere in the park, tables of cultural events are intended to be both fun and educational. These include choosing a word of the day from a wishing tree and spinning a wheel to receive a Guanyin reading. Additionally, visitors can visit and take photos at the cultural village, which is laid out and decorated to look like a traditional Southeast Asian village.
Although 2022 will have far fewer vendors than previous years, there will still be plenty of traditional Asian dishes for sale – from Korean barbecue to Boba drinks. Many attendees are family-run shops, including Saigon Sandwiches & Deli, which will serve Vietnamese street food. There will also be a Bizuri Ice Cream food truck, as well as stalls of E & Drink, Finest City Sweet Treats, Miister Potato, and more.
Free masks and bottles of hand sanitizer will be available for attendees, along with large balloons – measuring five feet long – that guests can hold to help with social distancing. There will also be a COVID-19 vaccination site hosted by San Diego County on Saturday.
While event organizers stressed the importance of returning to an in-person format, they said the festival will comply with all county, state and national health and safety guidelines regarding the COVID-19. Attendance will be monitored and if the event exceeds 5,000 people, additional security measures will be put in place.
Lunar New Year Party
When: from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. An opening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.
Or: Officer Jeremy Henwood Park, 4455 Wightman St., City Heights
Price: To free
In line: lunarnewyearfestival.org