The Best Ways to Celebrate The Chinese New Year in London
With my upcoming trip to China fast approaching, I couldn't help but feel extra excited for the this years Chinese New Year celebrations. The Chinese New Year is one of the most exciting and colourful events in London, and this year, the 'Year of the Rooster' plans to be no different. Chinatown will be buzzing with activities, decorations and dancers to mark the start of the Chinese New Year (which falls on 28 January 2017, however the main parade through central London takes place on 29 January 2017).
The Chinese New Year parade and the magical lantern festival, are the two events I think are worth visiting and the best way to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and there’s why.
London’s Chinese New Year Parade
Ring in the ‘Year of the Rooster’, at this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations in the West End, with music, flying lion dancers, acrobatics and martial art acts. The grand parade set off from Trafalgar Square, snaking along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue before arriving at Chinatown.
As the parade makes its way to Chinatown, you'll pass by craft stalls, Chinese food stalls and pop-ups, you’ll also get to see traditional dance and local up-and-coming artist perform.
The celebration starts at 10 am and will be in full swing by 12 pm at Trafalgar Square.
Wear and Buy something RED - this is the colour of the Chinese New Year and signifies good luck for the coming year.
Practice saying ‘Happy New Year’, in Cantonese it’s ‘San Nina Faai Lok’ and in Mandarin, it's ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le’.
The best thing about this event is that it’s free and finishes at 6 pm, however, Chinatown will still be buzzing with activities long after this time.
Magical Lantern Festival
I visited the first magical lantern festival last year, at Chiswick House and Garden and was in a total of awe of how beautiful and intricate the lanterns were and the story behind each lantern. This year the festival plans to be bigger and better with the theme ‘Explore the Slik Road’. You will discover along the trail, colourfully crafted life-sized and oversize lantern scenes, which represent and highlights the significance of this route of trade from Europe to China. The journey begins with a 15-metre wide lantern of the house of Parliament and Big Ben, which then transports you pass the landmarks of mainland Europe to Arabia and onwards to China.
There will also be the main display of a giant fire rooster, celebrating the new zodiac animal for the Chinese New Year.
After you’ve completed the 90-minute trail, you can refuel at one of street food stalls such as Cattle-Axe, Notso and SmokoLoko or visit the pop-up ice bar made entirely of ice.
Last year they had a marshmallow pit and a hot chocolate stall half down the trail, this saved me from the cold and hunger, the marshmallows were like warm pockets of clouds in my mouth. Do wrap-up for this event as it was absolutely freezing last year.
Also, plan your journey in advance as finding the actual grounds for Chiswick House was a bit tricky as the area was not clearly sign posted.
Happy New Year