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Chinese New Year is THE festival of the year in Chinese communities, and London plays host to the biggest celebration of Chinese New Year outside of Asia. Based on lunar and solar calendars, the date of Chinese New Year varies from year to year, but always falls between late January and the middle of February.
2013 is the year of the Snake, and this is our guide to getting the most out of this celebration that stimulates all your senses.
Where does it happen?
Trafalgar Square is the place to be if you want to be at the heart of the action. The dazzling world-famous parade starts in the square at 10.15 and snakes (pardon the pun!) its way up through Chinatown before coming to halt on Rupert Street. Full of giant dragons, mythical creatures and colourful performers, there really is something for everyone.
Once the parade is over, Trafalgar Square becomes the place to be, with the Mayor of London and the President of Chinatown conducting the Dotting of the Eye ceremony which dramatically brings all the dragons and lions to life. After the formalities, over a hundred spectacular performances from Chinese dragons, lions and acrobats take over the main stage as they dance and entertain the crowds. For those who like a sing-song, where are also traditional ethnic songs to give everyone a taste of Chinese musical culture and traditions.
No Chinese New Year would be complete without a fireworks extravaganza, and London’s festivities are no different. Come 5.40pm, the day is brought to an end with a fireworks spectacular that lights up the London sky to a soundtrack of “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd.
If the razzamatazz of Trafalgar Square gets a bit much, or if it’s time to recharge the batteries with some traditional Chinese food, you can always head on down to Chinatown which is specially decorated for Chinese New Year. Here you will find a wide selection of traditional Chinese foods, lion dance displays and even local Chinese artists who turn up to showcase their work.
When does it all happen?
Chinese New Year is an all-day affair with the parade starting in Trafalgar Square at 10.15 am, and finishing at 11.30, while the main stage hosts live performances from Midday to 5.40pm.
The best bit of all? Everything is free to attend meaning you can have a fantastic day out welcoming in the year of the snake without spending a penny!
If you like the sound of getting involved with the biggest celebration of Chinese New Year outside of Asia, remember we have five fantastic London hotels that mean you are never far from the action.