Celebrate and Support The AAPI Community

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is celebrated across the US every May with festivals, performances, and exhibits honoring the contributions of this community to every aspect of American culture. Why May? Because the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the US on May 7, 1843, and the transcontinental railroad—built mainly by Chinese immigrant workers—was completed on May 10, 1869, connecting Sacramento to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

AAPI Heritage Month festivities in the Bay Area are particularly vibrant: 27% of local residents—a little over two million people—identify as AAPI, a representation second only to Honolulu. 

Alongside continuing to support our diverse AAPI-owned restaurants, galleries, boutiques, businesses, and organizations, mark your calendar with these special events this May.

See the Lion Dance Competition in Chinatown

Since 2022, SF’s Chinatown, the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America, has hosted an annual Lion and Dragon Dance Competition. This year, teams from seven SFUSD high schools—students of AAPI-founded entertainment company and club LionDanceME—will showcase their skill, coordination, athleticism, and creativity against the backdrop of the district’s iconic Dragon Gate, temples, world-renowned restaurants, and stores. Catch the competition on May 11 and the Awards Ceremony on May 18 at 720 Grant Ave.

Watch A Movie During CAAMFest

Join the Center for Asian American Media for 11 days of Asian American film, music, and food. For the first time in the festival’s 42-year history, the Opening Night film will screen at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on May 9. Admissions Granted explores a Supreme Court case pitting Asian American plaintiffs against Harvard University. After the credits roll, festivities will begin at the Asian Art Museum for the annual Gala. Get details and tickets at CAAMFest.com.

Explore two Japantowns

There are only three historical Japantowns in the US, and two are right here, in the Bay Area. Settled in the early 1860ʼs, generations of Japanese immigrants and their descendants have envigorated SF’s Japantown with art, culture, and delicious food. Shortly after April’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, the community’s grandest celebration and parade, Kodomo No Hi (Children’s Day) draws families on May 4

In San Jose’s History Park on May 18, the Japanese American Museum of San Jose–which has a brick and mortar in JTown—will host panels, a craft and paper showcase provided by the Friends of the Japanese Friendship Garden, and performances from the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project and Mosaic America. Hungry for more? Stroll north to JTown proper to shop streetwear and art inspired by graffiti, tattoo, and car culture at Cukui and stock up on specialty gourmet items at Nijiya and Santo markets. Lunch like Anthony Bourdain at Minato, enjoy a phenomenal dinner at Okayama, and then mic-drop your day after closing down 7 Bamboo karaoke lounge.

Get Over The Fog

Over The Fog’s festival celebrating local Asian American and Pacific Islander culture in Daly City and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area—formerly known as the Asian American Cultural Festival—is back! On May 12, bring Mom to the Classic Bowling Center in Daly City for free bowling, live performances, and arts and crafts by AAPI brands. Don’t sleep on stickers, art prints, keychains, pins, and other stationary items by shoji artist Midori Chan and hand-made cards for every occasion by Choodaloo.

Visit the Asian Art Museum

When filmmakers and actors aren’t dominating the floor during CAAMFest, every story at the museum houses a collection of more than 18,000 diverse artworks from every region of Asia spanning more than 600 years. Exhibits range from contemporary video installations to ancient jades and ceramics. This May, you can explore Phoenix Kingdoms: The Last Splendor of China’s Bronze Age and shop jewelry, crafts, ceramics, and stationary at Spring Artisan Market on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5.


To discover more events this May, visit SF’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Guide and get tickets for the APA Heritage Awards and Reception on May 1 here!