Celebrate Chinese New Year in London and let the celebrations continue into February with the Magical Lantern Festival.
As the Chinese community in London gets ready to welcome in the Year of the Rooster, there couldn’t be a better excuse to join in the colourful festivities. Chinese New Year is a little earlier than usual, taking place on January 28th, with many of the capital’s events occurring the day after. If you’re going to be staying in a London serviced apartment during that time, be sure to get involved. If your trip occurs slightly later, then the Magical Lantern Festival will continue until February 26th.
Chinese New Year parade
Kicking off at 10am on January 29th, an exciting mix of hand-built floats and traditional lion and dragon dancers will weave their way through London. Starting in Charing Cross Road and ending up on Shaftesbury Avenue, anywhere that you choose to stand along the route, you’ll find you get bound up in the atmosphere.
By 11am, the action will have moved to Trafalgar Square, where events will continue all day. Highlights will include the setting off of firecrackers and different performers taking to the stage. They will include martial arts and a special effects show. The Flying Dragon Dance is scheduled for 12.50pm.
Before it can be carried out, the Lions’ Eye-Dotting Ceremony must occur. This is when the creature is officially brought to life with a bamboo brush soaked in cinnabar powder, mixed with water to create a paste. As well as its eye, the lion’s mouth, neck, body, tail and limbs are all dotted with the solution. It is accompanied by increasingly loud music.
A visit to London’s Chinatown is always a lot of fun, but it will be extra special during Chinese New Year. Many of the restaurants add traditional food to their menus to help celebrate the occasion. Look out for dumplings, longevity noodles and sweet rice balls, which are all considered lucky to eat during Chinese New Year.
Between 12pm and 6pm on January 29th, there will be additional entertainment. Expect to see lion dances, as well as animals from the Chinese zodiac walking around. The Lucky Money God will also be in attendance, so be sure to bring your camera and snap some great photos.
Get into the mood
Red is the traditional colour of good luck for the Chinese New Year, so don a red jumper or scarf before setting out. Alternatively, purchase something red in Chinatown during the festivities to put up in your house and invite the positive spirits in for the rest of the year.
Greet everyone you meet by saying Happy New Year. In Cantonese, the phrase is “San Nin Faai Lok” (pronounced san knee fy lock) and in Mandarin it is “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (pronounced sing nee-ann koo-why ler).
Magical Lantern Festival
If you’re not ready for the celebrations to end, then head along to the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and Garden. It’s already started and is running into late February, giving you plenty of opportunities to see this incredible spectacular, complete with more than 50 installations.
The theme for 2017 is the Silk Road and there is an area designed to mimic this fabled trade route. Add to this the giant fire rooster in honour of Chinese New Year, an illuminated Houses of Parliament and Aladdin’s genie in lantern form and you’ve got the recipe for a wonderful experience.