The Lunar New Year Parade kicked off on February 24, 2018 in celebration of the start of a new lunar calendar. The parade has taken place in San Francisco since the 18th century and is the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia. Samantha Shanahan/KQED
The Lunar New Year Parade kicked off on February 24, 2018 in celebration of the start of a new lunar calendar. The parade has taken place in San Francisco since the 18th century and is the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)

PHOTOS: Chinese New Year Parade Illuminates San Francisco

PHOTOS: Chinese New Year Parade Illuminates San Francisco

Last night's Chinese New Year Parade held in San Francisco is considered one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China. The parade has taken place since the 1860s and attracts millions of spectators in person and on TV.

Based on the lunar calendar, the 2018 Chinese New Year started on Feb. 16. Celebrations have already been underway across the Bay Area, with markets, lunar festivals and culinary delights.

Last night's event is one of the few remaining illuminated parades in the country. It featured floats, costumes, lion dances, firecrackers and the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA.

Chinatown's shop owners welcomed crowds of tourists and locals alike during the two week festival. In Lunar New Year tradition, giving fruit, like apples or oranges, as a gift for a host or hostess brings health and prosperity.
Chinatown's shop owners welcomed crowds of tourists and locals alike during the two week festival. In Lunar New Year tradition, giving fruit, like apples or oranges, as a gift for a host or hostess brings health and prosperity. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Parade participants carry flags with symbols of the Chinese Zodiac in the Lunar New Year parade in San Francisco. The new year ended the Year of the Rooster in favor of the Year of the Dog. The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals that rotate in 12-year cycles, and the animal that pertains to your birth year is said to reveal your future fortune, personality and career.
Parade participants carry flags with symbols of the Chinese Zodiac in the Lunar New Year parade in San Francisco. The new year ended the Year of the Rooster in favor of the Year of the Dog. The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals that rotate in 12-year cycles, and the animal that pertains to your birth year is said to reveal your future fortune, personality and career. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Parade participants march down Market Street alongside thousands of spectators to kick off the annual Lunar New Year Parade on February 24, 2018 in San Francisco.
Parade participants march down Market Street alongside thousands of spectators to kick off the annual Lunar New Year Parade on February 24, 2018 in San Francisco. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
A float resembling a BART train car rolls down Market leaving a trail of bubbles to celebrate the Year of the Dog.
A float resembling a BART train car rolls down Market leaving a trail of bubbles to celebrate the Year of the Dog. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
The bass drums of marching bands boomed down Market at the height of the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco, revving up the the crowd despite cold temperatures.
The bass drums of marching bands boomed down Market at the height of the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco, revving up the the crowd despite cold temperatures. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Boys dressed as the Eight Immortals, popular mythological figures in Chinese custom, towered above the crowds as they waited their turn to join the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco.
Boys dressed as the Eight Immortals, popular mythological figures in Chinese custom, towered above the crowds as they waited their turn to join the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Students from the Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy show off their best moves to the crowd while marching in the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco.
Students from the Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy show off their best moves to the crowd while marching in the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Ribbon dancers prance down Market Street in synchronization, entertaining a crowd of thousands of spectators.
Ribbon dancers prance down Market Street in synchronization, entertaining a crowd of thousands of spectators. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
A young girl observes the crowd below on a float decorated with illuminated red and gold lanterns. In traditional Chinese culture, red and gold signify luck and prosperity for the upcoming year.
A young girl observes the crowd below on a float decorated with illuminated red and gold lanterns. In traditional Chinese culture, red and gold signify luck and prosperity for the upcoming year. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Parade spectators visit Chinatown's many shops and street vendors to shop for souvenirs after the parade.
Parade spectators visit Chinatown's many shops and street vendors to shop for souvenirs after the parade. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Parade spectators battled crowds and cold temperatures to ring in the Lunar New Year.
Parade spectators battled crowds and cold temperatures to ring in the Lunar New Year. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
After the parade, participants of all ages lit up the streets of Chinatown by lighting sparklers and firecrackers.
After the parade, participants of all ages lit up the streets of Chinatown by lighting sparklers and firecrackers. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
The chilly weather had parade onlookers lining up for hot noodle soup like malatang and other Chinese staples.
The chilly weather had parade onlookers lining up for hot noodle soup like malatang and other Chinese staples. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Firecracker debris litters the ground of Chinatown after a successful Lunar New Year celebration in San Francisco.
Firecracker debris litters the ground of Chinatown after a successful Lunar New Year celebration in San Francisco. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)

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