The Chinese New Year celebrations in London are the biggest outside Asia, with thousands of people taking part in lively parades, traditional displays and stage performances across the capital. Chinese New Year falls between late January and mid-February each year, when the London Chinatown Chinese Association organises the festivities.
Crowds flock to Chinatown and the West End for colourful entertainment and Chinese food, congregating in the streets from Shaftesbury Avenue to Trafalgar Square to enjoy the party atmosphere. This year’s celebrations begin on Friday 16th February, when revellers will welcome in the Year of the Dog, as they say goodbye to the Year of the Rooster.
The date of Chinese New Year is different every year, as it’s based on the lunar calendar. It normally takes place between 21st January and 20th February and has been linked to the Chinese Zodiac since around 771BC.
The Chinese Zodiac runs on a 12-year cycle and the holiday is known as the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year. Each year is linked with one of 12 animals: dog, rat, tiger, ox, snake, rabbit, sheep, dragon, horse, monkey, rooster and pig.
The main celebrations in London will take place on 18th February – the Sunday after Chinese New Year on 16th February. Entertainment will include various events and plenty of food throughout Chinatown, family-friendly fun in Leicester Square, the main stage in Trafalgar Square and more stages on Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.
On 18th February, this year’s entertainment includes a parade through Chinatown featuring colourful floats and more than 30 teams that will be setting off from Charing Cross Road at 10am, with a traditional Chinese dragon and lion dance. The main stage entertainment in Trafalgar Square starts at noon and will include Chinese music and dance shows, various artists from China and contemporary hip-hop music.
There will be two special food zones: Trafalgar Square will host Chinese street foods, while the restaurants in Chinatown will be cooking a traditional new year menu with festive treats. Leicester Square will feature a family zone, where cultural activities and performances for kids will take place. Take part in workshops featuring everything from calligraphy and Chinese music, to dressing up in traditional clothing.
The Shaftesbury Avenue martial arts and culture zone will feature performances of martial arts such as tai chi chuan, while it will also host traditional flag displays. Hosted by Spectrum Chinese radio, the Charing Cross community zone will feature a New Talent stage, where up-and-coming artists will provide the entertainment.
Plenty of cultural activities, such as lion dances and craft stalls, will be taking place throughout Chinatown all day, while the celebrations will come to a close with a pyrotechnic display that will light up Trafalgar Square.
Roads around Chinatown and Trafalgar Square will be busy during the Chinese New Year celebrations, so plan your transport in advance! If you’re planning to enjoy the event with a party of family and friends, be sure to hire a luxury minibus from H&H Van Hire – you can all arrive together, and you can save on petrol and parking costs!
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