With the celebrations of Christmas and New Year behind us, it’s nice to have another occasion to mark to cheer up this period in the calendar. Chinese New Year is the perfect opportunity for this, as it brings with it the colour and energy associated with an exotic land, not to mention the chance to enjoy some delicious food.
Like many capital cities that host strong Chinese communities, London will be a hive of activity as the Year of the Monkey is welcomed. The exact day is February 8th, but the festivities last all week, so check out some of the events you could get involved with if you’re lucky enough to be in London during this time.
The gardens of Chiswick House will be alight every evening for just over a month, as the inaugural Magic Lantern Festival is staged. This unique event features more than 50 lanterns that have been hand built in all shapes and sizes. The highlight has to be a 60-metre long illuminated dragon, although the elephants, zebras and kangaroos are also good fun. Visitors are given a 75-minute slot to enjoy the light installations, as well as various performers at this showpiece event.
Not only will the impressive Chinese restaurant in The Shard, Hutong, be offering stunning views over The City, but it will also be serving up a special array of dishes. The Double Happiness Menu will only be available on February 8th to mark Chinese New Year and will feature the likes of dim sum, soft shell crab and lamb ribs. Priced at £88 per head it’s not the cheapest option, but when you consider the location and a traditional lion dance to ward off evil spirits, it’s likely to be an occasion to remember.
The Museum of Childhood will come alive with plenty of music and dance in celebration of Chinese New Year. It also represents the opportunity for kids to learn new skills, as workshops relating to the culture are being held in what promises to be a very packed schedule. Everything from lantern making to calligraphy will be on offer, so there’s no excuse not to get creative.
The headline event of any Chinese New Year celebrations is the parade, which of course features lion dancers, acrobatics and pyrotechnics. This year’s event will be held on Sunday 14th, so that everyone can get involved, as the huge crowd sets off from Trafalgar Square at 10am. Along the route, which winds its way to Chinatown, there will be all sorts of Chinese craft and food stalls, with Wardour and Gerrard streets being hubs for these activities.
Buying something red to adorn yourself or your home around Chinese New Year is said to bring good luck and where could be better to purchase such an item than Chinatown?! Whether you wish to opt for a traditional lantern, paper cut window grille or something depicting a monkey to mark the special animal of 2016, you’ll find it all within the streets of London’s very own Chinatown.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!