Nobody knows how to celebrate the new year quite like the Chinese and, short of flying to Shanghai or Beijing, London is the best place to join in with the festivities that will be held to mark the start of the Year of the Snake.
London is home to one of the biggest Chinese communities outside of the country itself, so it is little wonder that a whole range of events are planned for February 10th, when people will take to the streets of the capital to wish each other Kung Hei Fat Choi – Happy New Year.
Chinatown is the focus for what are the most extravagant Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia, but the festivities are not confined to here – events will be taking place throughout the West End and in
What to expect
A feast of sights, sounds, smells and tastes await those who head along to the celebrations. The streets of Chinatown – located in the Soho area of the capital – will be even more alive than usual, with food and craft stalls lining the roads to cater for those who want to pick up a souvenir or sample some authentic cuisine.
Stir fry, sushi, Szechuan and satay dishes will all be on the menu, and anyone who likes trying out new recipes in the kitchen can pick up some authentic ingredients to take home. If you would prefer a sit-down meal, there are more than 80 restaurants to choose from in Chinatown.
It is in Trafalgar Square where the day’s festivities will get underway, as at around 10am an hour-long parade of colourful floats will get underway. This will then make its way through Chinatown before coming to an end on Rupert Street.
Next up will be a ceremony on the main Trafalgar Square stage, where president of Chinatown Stanley Tse, His Excellence Lui Xiao Ming and deputy mayor for education and culture Munira Mirza will begin the Dotting of the Eye ceremony. This brings lions and dragons to life and a lion dance will weave through Chinatown during the day, stopping at restaurants to wish them good fortune for the coming year.
Throughout the afternoon there will be live events on the Trafalgar Square stage, with performers from the Guangdong and Sichuan Provinces, tenor singer Paul Potts and the Chen Brothers Flying Lion Dance among the guests lined up.
And the fun does not stop there, as at 5.55pm, after the sun has gone down, a huge firework display will take place, signalling the end of the day’s festivities.
If you’re heading down to London for a few days to see in Chinese New Year and explore other parts of the city, you might want to pick a hotel that is close to the places you wish to visit. Click here for more information on the options available – there are countless hotels across the capital that will suit all budgets.
You also may want to consider purchasing an Oyster card if you don’t have one already. These can be topped up with credit at any Tube station and in many instances work out cheaper than paying for individual journeys.
Alternatively, if you are making extensive use of the Underground during your stay, it might be worth investing in day travel cards, which allow unlimited journeys on the day on which they are purchased.