Kultura Kapwa
Kultura Kapwa performs Sunday at 1 p.m. | Credit: Rhythmix Cultural Works

The 31st annual Autumn Moon Festival will fill Grant Avenue, the center of San Francisco’s Chinatown, with a pedestrian bazaar, arts-and-crafts booths, live music, and food vendors from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 and 12.

Ancient Harvest Moon traditions include family reunions, moon gazing, and sharing “moon cakes,” traditional round pastries made with a variety of sweet fillings.

Autumn Moon Festival poster 2021

This event also has a meaning in the present as described by the organizing Chinatown Merchants Association: “Plagued by the pandemic, xenophobia, and crime, Chinatown has had one rough year,” but local visitors and tourists are starting to return and with them, the apparent beginning of normalcy — that’s what renewal of the festival signifies and supports.

A parade of officials, led by Mayor London Breed and featuring lion dancers and beauty queens, opens the festival at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Entertainment coordinator Max Leung has recruited local Asian talent from the community to perform for the first time at the Autumn Moon Festival. The Chinese Youth Center will provide a variety of kids activities. Families should enjoy the presence of the Moon Goddess and God and Panda; lion dancing on Saturday. The famous Dragon appears on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the grand finale of the event.

Look for festival favorites and welcome newcomers over the weekend:

The Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company celebrates 30 years of entertaining audiences throughout the Bay Area. Their passion for Chinese dance and their Asian heritage reflected in their colorful mini-show presentation of traditional, contemporary and original dances.  

Yau Kung Moon Richard Ow Kung Fu Association, established in 2000, maintains the traditions and values of traditional Chinese martial arts and lion dance for all age groups.

Flying Angels
The Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company performs at the festival Sunday at 2 p.m. | Credit: Sophia Handkerchief

The Complements comprise Greg and Aleesha, whose music has been described as “the sonic representation of a smile.” Greg is a Los Angeles native, a classically trained pianist, and self-taught guitarist. Aleesha grew up in Europe and Asia and has a musical theater background.

Chow Mane, rapper and producer, is known for his diverse, colorful music ranging from psychedelic and melodic to gritty and dissonant.

Chino Yang is a Chinese rapper/restaurateur based in San Francisco. Growing up in a project, he made it out of the hood without any gang affiliation. His rap career took off after he went on the show called Rap of China back in 2018, completing the show as the champion of North America. He’s toured 32 cities around the world with his crew.

Tony Martinez belongs to the generation of Cuban musicians formed at the end of the 20th century, classically trained, but also combining jazz with traditional Cuban rhythms.

Hip Bones features the saxophone and brilliant flute work of Gary Schwantes, supported by the melodically funky, loop-infused bass work of Shannon Hoover and the tasteful grooves of drummer Robin Tolleson.

Kultura Kapwa, roughly translates to “being with others through culture.” Based in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the ensemble presents the precolonial music, dance, and regalia traditions of Mindanao, Southern Philippines.

See performances times and details at the festival’s schedule page.