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From Mira Mesa To City Heights, San Diego Groups Prep For Lunar New Year

A diorama at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum displays a scene of a ty...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: A diorama at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum displays a scene of a typical Lunar New Year celebration, Jan. 18, 2017. One half of the miniature exhibit shows a family inside a home filled with food and gifts while the other half represents an outdoor scene of dancers and revelers in vibrant costumes.

The first new moon of 2017 is nearly upon us. Groups across the county are set to celebrate the Asian holiday honoring the lunar event in the upcoming weeks.

Yen Tu helps plan the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in San Diego, the longest running festival in its 35th year. She said the holiday, which falls on Jan. 28, is about spending time with loved ones over good food.

Lunar New Year festivals around San Diego

San Diego Tết Festival

Mira Mesa Community Park

Jan. 27 - 29

Little Saigon Lunar New Year Tết Festival

Qualcomm Stadium

Feb. 3 - 5

San Diego Chinese New Year Fair

3rd Ave. & J St.

Feb 11 - 12

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

“Chinese New Year is about harvest time. This is when you’re done with your harvest and you’re able to celebrate. This is also a new moon and this is also a time where family get together and wish everybody a good year," said Tu, who leads the planning committee for the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, the San Diego Chinese Center and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of San Diego.

The festival planned for early February is about bringing the Asian culture to the rest of San Diego, which she said she thinks is growing. Tu said attendance at the annual Chinese New Year event has steadily increased over the last 35 years, and other festivals celebrating the Lunar New Year have popped up over the years. That includes the Little Saigon San Diego Foundation’s Tết Festival, a Vietnamese celebration in its seventh year.

The Foundation’s board chairman Su Nguyen said the annual celebration is a way to share Asian customs with the region. Festival attendees will be treated to dances, costumes and nearly two dozen Asian food vendors over the three-day festival next month.

But, Nguyen said, it was also intended to bring much-needed attention to the Vietnamese district in City Heights. He said he’s lived in the lower-income neighborhood for more than two decades and he wants to help improve the area. Proceeds from the festival’s ticket sales will go toward beautifying the district along El Cajon Bouelvard.

“The sidewalks need to be walkable," Nguyen said. "If you walk in Little Saigon District right now, I don’t think we can walk at night. And then I want (it to be) more safe.”

Volunteer Arlene Paraiso said she joined the Little Saigon San Diego Foundation partly because of this vision.

“I like that they’re trying to revitalize the City Heights Little Saigon District area because I remember when downtown was scary,” Paraiso said. “A lot of people are surprised: Little Italy was not anywhere you went, and now it’s the place to go.”

Nguyen said the foundation has already made progress on the first stage of its 10-year plan to place monuments along the street. A Little Saigon business owner donated the funds to erect the first one: a flagpole that will display the Vietnamese heritage flag. He said he is waiting on the city to approve the permit.

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