A time where streets are lit up with bright flamboyant lights, sounds of crackling fireworks can be heard a mile away, smells of freshly baked moon cakes play with nostrils, and the laughter of jovial people fill the air.
When celebrating the Chinese New Year, you’re celebrating China's rich, fascinating, and prosperous history and culture. In the days of the 'Dynasties', the year revolved around the lunar cycle and when the new year came, the emperors would hold gargantuan feasts in honor of the gods who would in turn bring forth a new year filled with prosperity, fortune, and happiness.
Each year represents a different animal of the Chinese Zodiac and this New Year is the year of the rat.
Then at night, a festive, and jovial parade would tread across town where reenactments of legendary stories would be shown. Also, dragons and lions would line the streets and dance about while fireworks filled the night sky with their multitudes of color and thunderous drums of sound scared away the evil spirits.
Also known as Spring Festival and Lunar New Year around the world, this colourful celebration starts on the last day of the last month in the Chinese lunar calendar and ends on the 15th day of the first month with the spectacular Lantern Festival.
The main Chinese New Year events take place in London’s Chinatown, the West End and Trafalgar Square. Watch the colourful Chinese New Year parade pass through the streets of the West End and Chinatown London. Or head over to Trafalgar Square for stage performances and all-day entertainment, or visit stages dotted across the West End for more Chinese New Year celebrations.
In 2020, Chinese New Year falls on 25 January, celebrating the Year of the Rat. The 2020 Lunar New Year festivities in London will take place on 26 January.
The London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) was founded in 1978 to help businesses in Chinatown, to provide support for British Chinese and to raise funds for disaster relief in China.
The Chinese New Year London celebrations began as a small community event in Chinatown more than 20 years ago; the festivities have now become the largest of their kind outside Asia, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the capital each year.
Having grown across the West End, the Chinese New Year celebrations in London include the colourful Chinese New Year parade, lion dances through Chinatown and a spectacular stage show in Trafalgar Square.
The central London festivities take place across the West End, from Shaftesbury Avenue in the north down to Trafalgar Square, a short trip from the Presidential Serviced Apartments’ location in Kensington.
There are lively activities and foodie treats in Chinatown; Leicester Square offers family-friendly entertainment; and while Trafalgar Square hosts the main stage performances, more stages can be found on Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.
Watch colourful floats take part in the vibrant Chinese New Year parade, featuring the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe. The parade usually kicks off on Charing Cross Road, before snaking its way through Shaftesbury Avenue in Chinatown.
Trafalgar Square: The fun in Trafalgar Square normally begins with screen shows and a thanksgiving ceremony, followed by firecrackers, speeches and the Lions’ Eye-Dotting Ceremony.
Experience traditional dragon and flying lion dances, ahead of fun-filled stage performances throughout the day, including Chinese dance and music shows, martial arts displays and an exciting lineup of artists from China.
If you’re feeling peckish, experience a taste of the far east with street food dishes from the stalls lining the square throughout the celebrations. As night falls over London, the finale gets underway with a variety of showstopper performances to mark the end of the Year of the Rat festivities.
West End stages: The London Chinese New Year fun continues across the West End with special performances, workshops and activities.
You can usually spot up-and-coming British-Chinese artists at the talent and community zone on Shaftesbury Avenue; take the kids to the family zone in Leicester Square; and see thrilling performances in the martial arts and cultural zone on Charing Cross Road.
Chinatown: Head over to Chinatown, where you’ll be able to get up close to lion dances and take selfies with Chinese zodiac animals. Or, sit down for a traditional Chinese New Year meal and festive treats in one of Chinatown’s restaurants.
Chinese New Year is based on various legends, including that of an old man defeating the wicked mythical beast Nian with the help of firecrackers and red paper defences.
Traditionally, every family would clean their house in the build-up to Chinese New Year to ward off any bad luck from the current year, and to make room for good luck in the coming year. Openings such as doors or windows would be given a makeover with red paper decorations to bring in good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.
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