London’s Top 5 Chinese New Year Events

Derek Robertson, January 2018

This year, Chinese New Year falls on Friday February 16th, although the main festivities in London will fall on the Sunday the 18th. Taking place mainly in the West End and Chinatown, few celebrations are such a riot of colour and joy, so wear something red (to bring good luck), brush up on your Mandarin (“Xin nian kuai le”, pronounced sing nee-ann koo-why ler, means “Happy New Year”), and get yourself to one of these events.

New Year Parade & Opening Ceremony
More than 30 teams are due to take part in this colourful, noisy parade of hand-crafted floats which kicks off at 10am with a dragon and a lion dance in Charing Cross Road. The parade will then wind it’s way through Chinatown towards Shaftsbury Avenue before ending around midday in Trafalgar Square, just in time for the official opening ceremony. During the afternoon, the main stage will play host to a variety of Chinese music shows, as well as performances from up-and-coming Chinese artists. Puppetry, dance, acrobatics, and drumming will also feature on a variety of side stages, and be sure to stick around until the evening for the spectacular firework display at the grand finale!

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Experience Martial Arts
As in previous years, a martial arts and culture zone will be set up along Shaftsbury Avenue on Sunday the 18th. A rich mix of displays and demonstrations, some ancient traditions and skills will be on show; flag displays, tai chi chuan, and a number of other fighting skills are just some of the showcases scheduled. For those feeling brave or adventurous, a number of workshops will allow you to try your hand at some of the activities, and there’s plenty planned to keep the kids interested too.

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Chinese Comedy Special
For something a little different, head to St George’s Church on Bloomsbury Way on Friday 16th for a something a little different – Chinese standup. Five East Asian comics are due to take to the stage for night of belly laughs and fun, and with tickets costing only £7 for the two-hour show, it won’t break the bank either (do bear in mind it is an adult-only show).

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Museum of London Docklands
2018 is the Year of the Dog, meaning people born in this year are faithful, loyal, and courageous. Allegedly. The Museum of London Docklands will be hosting a special themed family day on Friday 16th featuring a variety of ancient arts and crafts including calligraphy, story telling, and ribbon dancing. Running from 11am to the early evening, entrance is free, and a number of the stalls and workshops encourage participation and active learning.

Eat Chinese Food
Londoner’s are spoilt for choice when it comes to Chinese food, especially during Chinese New Year. The official festivities have two food zones – a number of street food vendors in Trafalgar Square, and the plethora of choice and tastes in Chinatown itself. And if a proper dinner is what you’re after – and do book well in advance – there truly is something for everyone: for rustic authenticity, head to Baozi Inn; for a more formal take on street food, Café TPT is the place to go; for a quick snack and some bubble tea, the Jen Café has you covered; for roast duck, the Four Season’s is the best; and, if you want some karaoke with your dim sum, the Royal Dragon is the place for you.

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