The year of the monkey is approaching and London’s Chinese residents are planning to take to the streets and celebrate the New Year in all its colourful glory. Expect traditional eastern style decorations, lanterns illuminating the streets, huge paper dragons and, of course, plenty of dancing!
This year’s festivities will start on Monday 8th February; however, the main London parade won’t take place until Sunday 14th February. Everyone is welcome to join in, be it attending one of the many events held throughout the city or simply relaxing at home with a nice take away.
The “Official” Parade
Outside of China, London’s Chinese New Year parade is the biggest in the world. In fact, it’s so popular that many Chinese people travel from the homeland in order to attend the event. It starts at 10am, moving from Charing Cross road and Shaftesbury Avenue, to Trafalgar Square. The scene will be a spectacle of acrobatic performances, lion dances, high pole troupe dancers and a light projection over Nelson’s Column.
With over 100 restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, Chinatown will be at the heart of the action throughout the entire week. New Year themed decorations, craft stalls and street performers will colonise the area, giving the already vibrant district even more of a party vibe.
Chinese Lantern Festival
The United Kingdom’s first ever Chinese Lantern Festival will take place at Chiswick House and Garden. The five week programme will include everything from theatrical performances to light installations. However, the most impressive part of all will be the whopping 60-metre long dragon sculpture, which is just one of the 50-plus hand crafted lanterns that will adorn the area.
The Museum of Childhood
The V&A Museum of Childhood, in conjunction with The Mother’s Bridge charity – an organisation dedicated to teaching adopted Chinese children about their native culture – will host workshops in lantern making, costume making and calligraphy. The craft fair will be held on Saturday 13th February from 11.30am. Entrance is free.
The National Gallery
Two days before the “official” Chinese New Year, on Saturday 6th February, the National Gallery will host a day of family oriented, Chinese-themed activities. Mask making workshops, zodiac trails, traditional storytelling and singsongs in both Mandarin and English will have multiple sessions throughout the day.
Croyden Phoenix Parade
Sometimes it’s nicer to attend the smaller, less known events. Croyden’s town centre may not compete with the size of the Trafalgar Square parade, but it’s no less entertaining. Along with food stalls, arts workshops and lion dancing, a traditional parade will march through the streets on 7th February, showcasing a huge phoenix sculpture with an eight-metre tail.
Unfortunately, the Year of the Monkey is believed to be the most unlucky year in the Chinese zodiac. Superstition aside, London always lives up to its name as the best, most lively city to celebrate the Chinese New Year outside of the homeland. If you want to enjoy the festivities without the hustle and bustle of the city streets, consider watching alongside the sky lanterns by taking a trip on The London Helicopter.