Can you believe that in the 7 years I’ve lived here, I have never been to Chinese New Year celebrations in London? I’m not quite sure how that happened but I suspect it is because of my tendency to make plans and fill up my weekends months ahead of time. I won’t make that mistake this year and I have made a firm commitment to spend Chinese New Year in London with Melissa and other friends.
The Chinese New Year celebrations in London are the largest celebrations in the world outside of China. They take place annually on the Sunday following Chinese New Year and last year the celebrations were attended by 500,000 people! This year is The Year of the Horse and festivities are taking place on Sunday, 2 February 2014.
The Parade and Festivities
The most exciting part of the day is definitely the parade. I’ve been watching videos of last year’s celebrations and they look so exciting, I can’t wait to be there in person!
The parade begins in Duncannon Street at 10am and moves up Charing Cross Road and along Shaftesbury Avenue. We can expect an explosion of colour, drums and dancing, firecrackers and a multitude of lions, dragons and lanterns. I’ve especially looking forward to the traditional costumes, dresses and make up.
The official opening ceremony takes place in Trafalgar Square at 12pm, followed by an afternoon of live entertainment. Last year, over 100 performers appeared on the main stage and in 2014 we can expect acrobats, dragon dancing, music and performers.
The festivities will end with a spectacular fireworks display just before 6pm.
Eating Out in Chinatown
Definitely book ahead if you’re planning to eat out during Chinese New Year. The lovely people at TimeOut have composed a list of London's Best Chinese Restaurants but remember to confirm prices when you book because many places will be offering special Chinese New Year set menus.
Personally, I’m looking forward to some great street food from the multitude of craft and food stalls that will line the streets of Chinatown. If I go very hungry beforehand, I’m quite confident that I can manage at least three complete meals including dim sum, sweet and sour pork and perhaps a chow mein too. What I’d like most would be to try something completely new that I haven’t tasted before.
Staying in London on Chinese New Year
I’m sure it’s not just me but 10am on a Sunday morning is really early to be anywhere, let alone in the very centre of London, so staying overnight is pretty tempting. With over half a million descending on London from all over the UK and Europe, it is essential to book ahead if you are planning on staying in London over the Chinese New Year weekend. Hotels in the area immediate to Trafalgar Square and Chinatown are already filling up but you can still find accommodation across London from the reasonable Kensington Forum to the luxurious Dorchester or Connaught hotels.
Are you free on 2 February? If you’d like to come along to the Chinese New Year celebrations and meet some fellow expats, then contact me via email, Twitter or Google +.
Will you be celebrating Chinese New Year in London in 2014? Have you ever been to Chinese New Year celebrations in any other country? How about China?