As percussion smashes and firecrackers snap, crackle and pop against the night sky, it must be that time of year again: Chinese New Year! With celebrations so big and brash they tend to eclipse 31st December, the Chinese certainly know how to pull off a party. So, to make sure you know what you’re doing, as the sensible rooster kicks the cheeky monkey into yesteryear, we’ve compiled the best places to revel the night away when it comes to celebrating the Chinese New Year in London.
Almost the entire West End fills with music, pyrotechnics, dancing lions, martial art displays, craft stalls and singers as Chinese New Year approaches. Due to its role as the epicentre of Chinese fun, this slice of London is extremely popular, so get there early if you don’t want to watch from afar.
In Chinese culture, it’s considered a very good omen be on high ground during or after the evening’s celebrations. Thankfully, London possesses several perfect vantage points, from The London Eye to the Shard.
Traditionally there are lots of chores to work on New Year’s Eve, with spring-cleaning, haircutting and other tasks to tick off, but the most important thing to remember is to organise or host a big celebratory dinner. Whether you choose dumplings or dim sum, the best place to go is London’s lively Chinatown district.
Museum of London Docklands
This Chinese New Year, the Museum of London Docklands is hosting a lovely little family festival that involves paper cutting and zodiac drawing, as traditional tales are recounted and dragon dances reveal the Chinese genius in its most spectacular form.
Taking place a little before Chinese New Year on 19th January, the luminescent Chinese Lantern Festival returns after last year’s success. A fabulous array of virtual reality sets, theatre props and light installations, the performances have quickly become a popular feature of Chinese New Year in London
Royal Festival Hall
As the year of the rooster gets into full swing, the Royal Festival Hall will be hosting Long Yu (the Artistic Director of the Beijing Musical Festival) on 9th February. Long Yu will be leading London’s inaugural Chinese New Year Gala Concert, which possesses a programme that draws deeply from both western and eastern cultures.
On January 25th the China Exchange will invite the world’s biggest drinks connoisseurs to sample baijiu, China’s national drink. Helped along by lots of mixings, tastings and Q&As, come along to try it for yourself.
Students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong will play a classical repertoire on traditional instruments to celebrate the year of the rooster at the British Museum on 3rd February. A sophisticated offering, it’s one of the evening’s more cultured affairs.
While London’s Chinese New Year events are enough to entice visitors, it’s often the landmarks and historic sights that people ultimately come for. To take in the city’s top sites, why not join a day tour of the capital with Evan Evans.