Every year at the exact second of the vernal equinox when the sun directly faces the Earth’s equator, the Persian New Year arrives. This year, Persian New Year, also known as Nowruz, arrives precisely on March 20 at 4:21 p.m. in California.
While Nowruz brings 13 days of festivity to Iran (formerly Persia) and some of its neighboring countries where the Persian Empire once ruled, it will also be celebrated in the multicultural Bay Area at the following events in chronological order:
Rumi Art Exhibition in Campbell: Persian Cultural Club will host a Rumi art exhibition at the Campbell Community Center Saturday, from 3-5 p.m. Rumi art comprises paintings that depict poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi, a Persian poet born in 1207.
Refreshments will be served at the event where tickets are $25 per adult, $15 per child and free for children under 4. Call 408-374-9398 to purchase tickets.
Fire Jumping in Berkeley: On the last Tuesday night of the old year, Persians typically gather around bonfires as a ritual to pray for enlightenment, health and happiness in the year ahead. The same ritual will take place on the 2000 block of Durant Avenue in Berkeley on Tuesday from 6-10 p.m.
It's an alcohol-free event that's also admission free. For more information, click here.
Nowruz Feast in Cupertino: Arya Global Cuisine Restaurant, owned by an Iranian American couple, will celebrate Nowruz with dinner specials plus live music and belly-dancing performances the weekend of March 19-20.
Dinner packages including appetizers and desserts are $39 per person on March 18 and $49 per person on March 19-20. On March 20, the day of Nowruz, there will also be a photographer available to capture the evening. Contact the restaurant for prices on photos. For reservations, call 408-996-9606.
Persian-themed Concert in Oakland: To celebrate Nowruz, Oakland East Bay Symphony will perform Iranian American composer Behzad Ranjbaran's works at Paramount Theatre in Oakland on March 18 at 8 p.m.
A faculty member of the Julliard School, Ranjbaran is influenced by the Neo-Romantic movement of the late 20th century as much as Iranian and other non-Western musical traditions.
His orchestral work to be performed in Oakland, Seemorgh, is part of his Persian Trilogy based on ancient Persian legends, as recounted in the 11th century epic poem "Shahnameh" (The Book of Kings).
The concert also presents Beethoven Triple Concerto featuring three Iranian soloists: pianist Tara Kamangar, violinist Cyrus Beroukhim and cellist Arash Amini.
Tickets start from $20. Call 510-444-0801 for more ticket information.
Nowruz Celebration in Palo Alto: Persian Center, an Iranian American nonprofit based in Berkeley, will put on an elaborate Nowruz banquet at Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel in Palo Alto March 25, starting 6:30 p.m.
The banquet will include fine dining, cultural performances and ballroom dancing. Tickets are $100 per adult and $50 per child under age 12.
Nowruz Celebration in Walnut Creek: The Persian Zoroastrian Organization will host a dinner event at 1751 Tice Creek Dr. in Walnut Creek March 26, starting at 6:30 p.m. It includes a buffet catered by a kebab restaurant, live music and dance performance.
Tickets are $50 per adult, $30 per child ages 5-10, and free for children under age 5. Reservations can also be made for $440 per table of eight people. To purchase tickets, call 408-320-6796.
Persian Music Concert in San Francisco: Iran's acclaimed Shams Ensemble, influenced by Sufi, Kurdish and Persian classical traditions, will perform at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on March 27 at 8 p.m.
Founded in 1980 by Kaykhosro Pournazeri, Shams was the first group to compose music specifically for the ancient Kurdish tanbour lute. At the upcoming Nowruz concert, Shams will play music incorporating classical Persian poetry.
For ticket information, call 415-392-4400.
Nowruz at San Francisco City Hall: The elegant San Francisco City Hall will be filled with the graceful sights and sounds of Persian traditions on March 31, from 5:30-8 p.m.
The Nowruz celebration will include musical entertainment, a haft seen (a large table displaying symbols of spring for Nowruz), plus Persian-style tea and refreshments.
It is a free community event open to the public but takes reservations and donations. For more information, click here.