A galore of dragons amongst other exciting cultural activities are coming our way, as Chinatown (… and a good part of Central London) prep for the welcoming of the Year of the Rat. Chinese New Year celebrations in London are quite something, especially so if you haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing them in the past. The events are multiple, kick-starting on January 25th and leading up to the spectacular parade the Sunday after. Not sure how to go about celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Rat in London? We’ve got the rundown ready for you:
Roaming through Chinatown during the festive weekend is a far cry from your average stroll. This unique part of Central London lays in between Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus, its entrance marked by hard-to-miss gates, and its alleys filled with Chinese restaurants, markets and bakeries. Chinatown dresses up for Chinese New Year with an abundance of colourful decorations, with red serving as a prominent feature everywhere you turn, paper dragons of all shapes and sizes and multiple installations that ideally complement the upbeat ambience of the area.
2. Chinese Visual Festival
If you’re more of a movie enthusiast, feel free to take this opportunity to immerse yourself in the Chinese film culture with Chinese Visual Festival’s Screening Programme, celebrating the Lunar New Year. Documentaries, dramas and blockbusters are all a part of the programme, with the likes of Little Q and All’s Well that Ends Well taking over screens at BFI Southbank, King’s College London and Regent Street Cinema. An exciting way to discover the magic of the Chinese big screen, you have the opportunity to book tickets for Sunday the 19th until Wednesday the 29th!
3. Splurge on CNY memorabilia
Ready to indulge in luxury continents, sweet treats, high quality tea selections and the most delicious biscuits around the city? Fortnum & Mason have a perfectly scrumptious array of celebratory gifts and treats, welcoming the Year of the Rat with ideal rat-inspired packaging. If you would rather go for something that lasts in time, Harrods have you covered. Their Chinese New Year plush toy boasts the authentic Harrods plush toy design, reinvented into a rat with a lush red ribbon around its neck and Chinese New Year’s wishes. If you would rather shy away from department stores on the day though, we would definitely recommend picking up something red (yes, it’s a tradition that will bring you good luck) from Chinatown’s vast array of little bits and bobs.
4. Chinese New Year Parade
A significant reason why London’s CNY celebrations are dubbed the biggest outside of Asia, is the city’s phenomenal parade. Colourful floats, traditional Chinese sounds and lots of dancing are just some of the things you’ll come across. Charing Cross Road marks the beginning of the extravaganza, which leads us to Shaftesbury Avenue, just a breath away from Chinatown where you’re free to keep on feeding your festive spirit. January 26th marks the day!
5. West End Stages
West End has a big part to play on the last weekend of January, with a phenomenal array of performances, workshops and activities. Trafalgar Square and Shaftesbury Avenue are filled to the rim with stages of all sorts, featuring up-and-coming British-Chinese artists and martial arts displays aplenty, alongside a long list of fascinating ways to immerse yourself in the Chinese culture. Move in between the Talent and Community Zone on Shaftesbury Avenue and the Martial Arts and Cultural Zone on Charing Cross Road, and prepare to be taken aback by the sights!
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Passed Chinatown on my way home from the gym this morning (first workout of the year) and took a moment to stop and soak in my surroundings… feeling very excited and positive about the new year! Do you set New Years resolutions? I have been thinking about mine but not really set them in stone yet..
6. Chinese New Year at The Stay Club
We are not ones to pass on a Lunar New Year celebration, and we will be welcoming the Year of the Rat with much excitement! Join us on January 25th across all of our residences for a night filled with traditional decorations, music and lots of fortune cookies. Want to know more? We’re sure you do, and our Events Team are happy to oblige! Just drop us an email at email@example.com and we will loop you in on all the beautiful things happening. See you there!