If you want to celebrate the Chinese New Year in London, make sure you keep the last weekend in January free. The Year of the Rat will officially begin on Saturday 25th January, but in London, the main celebrations will be held throughout the day on Sunday the 26th.
Chinatown in London is always lively at any time of year. It’s centred on Gerard Street in Soho, and the colourful road is full of restaurants and Chinese supermarkets, with colourful decorations and amazing aromas. On the weekend of the Chinese New Year, Chinatown is bound to be extremely busy, but will also be great fun.
On Sunday 26th January, there’ll be a Chinese New Year parade snaking across Chinatown and the West End, with all-day entertainment staged at Trafalgar Square (nearest pier: Embankment), as well as activities in Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.
The parade will feature more than 50 floats and groups, with the largest gathering of Chinese dragons and lions in Europe. It will begin on Charing Cross Road at 10am, then make its way down Shaftesbury Avenue before moving on to Trafalgar Square.
There will be several stages set up in Trafalgar Square, each putting on traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances, traditional and pop music, martial arts demonstrations, and other performances. There’ll be big screens so, even if you can’t get close to the stages, you can still watch the action. The Square will be lined with food trucks selling street food throughout the day.
If the weather’s not so good, take the children to the National Gallery which is holding Chinese New Year-themed activities, such as storytelling, crafts, dance and making dumplings.
When it gets dark, the celebrations on the Square will end with a bang, thanks to an amazing fireworks display.
If you’ve got the kids with you, head over to the family zone in Leicester Square, where there’ll be martial arts displays, music, dressing up, and workshops.
Charing Cross Road
And if you like martial arts, there’ll be lots more to see on Charing Cross Road, with demonstrations and performances, including in Shaolin Kung Fu and Wing Chun.
British-Chinese performers will be showing off their talents on Shaftesbury Avenue, with a mix of dance, music and comedy.
Of course, there’ll be lots going on in Chinatown itself too! There’ll be lion dances throughout the day, and of course, shops and supermarkets to explore, and more restaurants than you can shake a Chinese dragon at!