Celebrating the Chinese New Year in London

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With more than 100 bars, restaurants and stalls partaking in the festivities, London hosts the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside of Asia. More than 1,000 volunteers participate in Chinatown alone, which includes a parade that starts in Duncan Street and ends in Trafalgar Square. But the celebrations don’t stop there. Throughout the rest of February the whole area will be buzzing with Eastern traditions.

This year marks the end of the “year of the horse” and makes way for the “year of the goat”, which signifies peace, art and a resistance to change. More than one in six people from all over the world will celebrate, making it one of the biggest events of the year 4,713 (2015).

Four Seasons

The Four Seasons is famous for its Cantonese-style roast duck, which it proudly displays in its front window on Wardour Street. During the Chinese New Year there’s no better place to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine. From succulent pork belly to savoury seafood, there are literally hundreds of dishes on the menu, all of which are simple and good value for money. The Four Seasons on Wardour Street is open daily until 4am, making it perfect for a late night meal if you’re out and about in Central London.

chinese new year

Trafalgar Square Parade

This year’s parade took place on the 19th February and was one of the biggest yet. Dragon dancers, fire breathers and a whole host of other entertainers lined the streets and weaved amongst onlookers as they made their way from Chinatown to Trafalgar Square. A number of musical performances followed. Over 100,000 people from across the UK attended the event, so if you missed it make sure you’re one of them in 2016.

Horniman Museum

One of the most anticipated events of the year is the secret art exhibition at the Horniman Museum by Aowen Jin. The event celebrates both contemporary and traditional culture and will contain Western inspired Chinese ribbon dances and live performances to compliment artistic works. During the evenings of the exhibition the cocktail bar will serve Chinese drinks and street food up on the roof terrace.

Cutty Sark

Every year the Cutty Sark hosts a family workshop on the Chinese New Year. This year’s event was more popular than ever as children partook in lantern and dragon mask craft building activities, while learning about trade between the East and the West through a series of educational short stories. If you’ve got kids and would rather have a little family fun, consider visiting this Greenwich hotspot next year.

Wing Chun Demonstration

Famed by the late Bruce Lee, wing chun is one of the most well-known Chinese martial arts. There are plenty of wing chun clubs throughout London, many of which will be celebrating Chinese culture by putting on performances for the public. If you’d like to get stuck in feel free to attend a club; a good sifu will welcome you with open arms.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people flock to the West End to experience this huge celebration. Although you may have missed the parade, plenty of establishments are still making the most out of this wonderful time of the year, so it’s not too late! If, however, you’d like to start making plans for next year, perhaps the London Helicopter would be a suitable option?

Image Credit (Creative Commons): Paul

Top 6 New Year’s Eve Events in London

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When you’re in London during the winter the festivities don’t stop on the 25th December. The entire week up until New Year’s Eve is just as eventful, and on that final night, everything goes out with one giant bang. The main problem with New Year’s Eve is deciding where to go and what to do. Whether you want to view world class firework displays, have a night out on the town, or simply enjoy a relaxing meal with a nice bottle of wine, these six events will certainly keep you satisfied.

southbank fireworks

London Sky Bar

The London Sky Bar is one of the most exclusive clubs in the city. With 360 degree views of Central London, you’ll be able to see the Millbank Tower, the Houses of Parliament, the Shard, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and much more. Tickets to their New Year’s Eve event are priced at a whopping £185 per person or £275 for the VIP package, which includes complimentary wines, beers and soft drinks, from entry until 12.30am.

Ivory House Medieval Banquet

If you’re a history buff, then you’ll no doubt enjoy feasting with Henry VIII at Ivory House. Locked away in the beautiful Katherine Docks (ten minutes walk from Tower Bridge), you’ll be able to mingle with knights, toy with jesters, and most importantly, wash down a six course meal with ale and wine, brought straight to your table by dancing wenches.

Trafalgar Square Street Party

Every year tens of thousands of people head over to Trafalgar Square for a giant New Year’s Eve celebration. If you’re the outgoing type who enjoys large crowds, singing and dancing, and you want to experience the biggest countdown in the country, there’s no better place. The great thing about Trafalgar Square is that it’s also close to Central London’s biggest and best pubs and clubs, so if you want to continue partying after midnight, you definitely won’t be short of options.

Southbank Fireworks Display

London’s main New Year’s Eve fireworks display will be launching from the London Eye and to get the best possible view, you should head down to the Southbank. Here you’ll be surrounded by some of the trendiest bars and restaurants in the city, for both pre and post-midnight drinks.

Tiger Tiger

Tiger Tiger is one of the most popular nightclubs in London on New Year’s Eve. Entrance is only £35, and the event is bound to be a sell-out, so book early if you’re thinking about going. This year the organisers have decided to go all out and will be providing everything from a fantastic musical line up, to confetti cannons and stilt performers.

Dinner at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

This year Golden Tours have created a special dinner package on New Year’s Eve, which includes a luxury cruise down the River Thames while the fireworks are setting off near the London Eye. The whole event will last for roughly six and a half hours, starting with a three course meal and a half bottle of wine at the Underglobe, a beautiful space beneath the main arena. Tickets are priced at £229 if you book online.

Wherever you are in London there will no doubt be plenty of New Year’s Eve options available. If you’d like to do something extra special, consider taking a trip on the London Helicopter. Here you’ll be able to view all the city sights from above, including the Houses of Parliament, the Shard and the Canary Wharf skyline.

Visiting London’s Department Stores for Some Last Minute Christmas Shopping

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Leaving Christmas shopping to the last minute is a mistake many of us make every year. Although we vow to “buy our gifts early” it simply never happens. Luckily, London has some of the best department stores in the world, so if you’re looking for last minute gifts, there’s absolutely no need to worry.

selfridges

Harrods

No Christmas in London would be complete without a visit to Harrods. While the whole store will be filled with festive surprises, nothing beats the 2,000 square foot Christmas World department on the third floor. Here you can find everything from cards and decorations to six foot Santa’s with a whopping £4,000 price tag. Harrods really goes all out at Christmas, especially with Santa’s grotto –every child leaves with a present.

Selfridges

Some people just can’t wait; despite the fact that it was the beginning of August, Selfridges were the first department store in the world to open their Christmas floor. With an estimated 46,500 decorations on their stock list, it probably wasn’t a bad idea either. All jokes aside, the floor was opened for tourists who won’t be around during the festive season and want to bring home a Christmas souvenir. Now the store is in full swing and is the perfect place to find some Christmas gifts before time runs out.

John Lewis

John Lewis in Oxford Street may not have the prestige of Harrods and Selfridges; however, the prices certainly make it a more appealing option for Christmas shopping; and with quality goods and excellent service, you can’t complain. What’s great about John Lewis is that it splits everything up into specific categories, to make the shopping experience as simple as possible – tech gifts, fashion gifts, etc. With over 20 different departments spread across seven floors, it’ll be difficult not to find what you’re looking for.

Liberty

With its Tudor style and old Victorian décor, Liberty is without a doubt one of the most visually striking buildings in London. Liberty is held in very high regard and stocks only the best of the best, so don’t expect presents to be cheap; if you seek quality, then look nowhere else. Liberty’s Christmas Shop is unbelievably stunning and filled with a wide array of arts, crafts and gift opportunities.

Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols is often referred to as the younger and more fashionable version of Harrods. The store has been around since 1813, but back then it sold only simple linens. Nowadays it’s more than just a store, it’s one of London’s premiere tourist attractions. All over the world Harvey Nichols has a reputation for quality; even the produce from their Christmas Hampers has been sourced and imported from around the globe – perfect if you’re lost for ideas.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason is famed for its afternoon tea and is the store of choice for the Royal Family. The store’s Christmas hampers range from £45 up to £5000, containing various assorted delicacies from around the world. One of the most popular items, however, is their handmade wooden advent calendars, which are said to last a lifetime. Throughout the Christmas season Fortnum & Mason will also be holding a number of workshops including cake making with Fiona Cairns (the Royal Wedding baker) and a Yule log master class.

When you’ve finished your last minute shopping, there’s nothing better than a relaxing trip on the London Helicopter to de-stress and recuperate.

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