San Diego Lunar New Year Festival Recap

Last weekend I went to the San Diego Lunar New Year Festival at Qualcomm Stadium. My friend, Laura, invited me to go since she scored a pair of free tickets to the event. The festival took place Friday-Sunday and we attended on Saturday evening. Parking was easy since parking and the festival were both in the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium.

When you first got in, this giant golden dragon greeted you at the entrance. 

There were different little mini exhibits near the front as well. They seemed kind of random to me. I felt like the exhibits should have talked about more the Lunar New Year Festival itself. There was this cool little mini cathedral though.

Quite detailed!

They also had all of these baskets that people were picking up and carrying on their shoulders. This one with the fruit was much easier to pick up that the one filled with rice!

Also: tiny pagodas. 

The entrance led you through an alley of various vendor booths at the Lunar New Year Festival. Laura and I both spun the wheel at Del Real. I thought this thing was rigged to move since I tried twice and lost both times! But Laura was able to win the second time to snag a tote bag (woo). After we checked out a few vendor booths, we met up with Laura’s friend and her daughter. 

There were a few food trucks at the Lunar New Year Festival before you spilled out into the food vendor booths. This area surrounded the stage and tables that were set up for eating. 

Laura and I spied around and tried to find the vendors that were cooking up their food FRESH. I saw a lot of heat lamps which made me wary. I avoided those spots if I couldn’t see them making fresh food. 

Laura’s friend ended up getting a bag of egg rolls and sharing it with us. This egg roll was piping hot which I appreciated! It wasn’t a bad tasting egg roll and it tasted good since it was crisp and freshly fried. 

I decided to get a bag of pork steamed buns (3 for $5). The buns were still in the steaming basket and pulled right out. These were quite moist and had a flavorful filling. It did seem like the filling to bun ratio was off. There was definitely more bread than filling. 

Laura and I decided to try an Okonomiyaki Japanese Pancake. This was the line.

They had a bunch of fake plastic food you could stare at. 

We decided to go for this one since the pancakes were all made to order. 

We shared the Corn and Cheese Okonomiyaki. The cheese gave the pancake a nice crispy edge and the corn gave it a little bit of sweetness. I liked the texture of it and the flavors that were mingling within the pancake. I have no idea how “authentic” this is but it tasted pretty good to me! I just had to avoid the pickled ginger in the pancake since those bits were quite spicy. Luckily those pieces were easy to avoid since the ginger was bright pink.

For $2 more bucks you could add either two sticks of fried squid or three sticks of shrimp tempura. We opted for the squid on a stick. The entire stick had the little tentacles on it. These tend to have more crunchy bits to them due to the little tentacles. T always gets kind of freaked out when he sees me eat this. I love them! These were a decent version. I thought the batter was a little too heavy and they were not piping hot (but rather still warm).

I saw a lot of people had drinks that were in lightbulbs.

Laura got one. This has Lychee slushie in it. The bottle is made out of real glass! I liked how the bottle looked. The drink itself was way too sweet for me. I stuck to water. 

For dessert we opted to get egg waffles from Waffle Land. 

I decided on the Mochi Waffle [$6]. Each little bubble had a piece of mochi in it. I love mochi but the flavor/texture of it seemed lost in the waffle. I’d get another flavor or just the original next time. Mochi is better on the outside! 

There were various dances happening in and around the stage at the Lunar New Year Festival. 

We watched a few high school groups do dance performances, hear a rap group who sang a song with a bunch of profanity in it (!!!! there were so many kids there, not cool), and also watched this cool lion dance with a duo that controls the lion’s movements. A few of the “lions” roamed around the area and “ate” money from people’s hands.

Laura and I also wandered around the “fair” area that had carnival games and rides. 

I watched this ride as the basket of people went around and around. That’s a big “NOPE” from me.

The Zipper. Oh man, I went on this death trap of a ride when I was 13 and once was enough for a lifetime. Dangling upside down over a metal bar is not my idea of fun, folks. But the rest of you HAVE AT IT. I’ll just watch. 

All in all the Lunar New Year Festival was an interesting event. It was fun watching the dances and grabbing some food to eat. I liked that parking was made easier by hosting the whole event at Qualcomm Stadium. I also saw lots of doggies there – it never occurred to me to bring Maya along but it’s probably for the best; she tends to get scared of loud noises these days. 

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

6 Replies to “San Diego Lunar New Year Festival Recap

  1. Looks fun! I went to one of these events years ago it seems! We watched my nephew’s group do lion dance at 99 Ranch on Sunday and visited the grandparents the weekend before. That’s about all the celebrating we did this year.

    Also, I always think there’s too much bread in steam buns (which we usually call bao) but it’s supposed to be like that!

    1. Hi Lynn – It was fun to go to! How cool that your nephew did that dance! Haha, yeah, sometimes the steam buns are too bread-y. I’d also prefer mine without the hard boiled egg in the middle but eh. It’s fine.

  2. Good tactic for the food booths – make sure the food is actually fresh and made to order. None of this heat lamp nonsense!

    The event looked like a lot of fun! I don’t know what the big deal is about the light bulbs as drinking vessels. After the drink is finished, will it get reused? They would seem hard to clean as well.

    I am not a fan of steamed buns, especially after having tried that place with you. The dough is just…doughy.

    1. Hi CC – Boo to heat lamps! I think the light bulb vessels are just another fad. I mean, I think they’re cool but you’re right – seems hard to clean. I suppose you could use a bottle brush though! I admit I still kind of like them.

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