Why not celebrate the Chinese New Year in London? Amazingly, London is the setting for the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia with colourful processions, parades, performances and fireworks.
January 28 sees the start of the Year of the Rooster and it will be celebrated in a colourful, lively style. Hundreds of thousands of people staying in Aparthotels London come to the West End of London to enjoy the experience.
London’s Soho district has been home to vibrant Chinese community for decades.
The main celebrations take place on January 29 with a colourful parade complete with acrobats, music, performers and a spectacular Lion Dance team which weaves its way through the streets from Chinatown to Trafalgar Square. This is the biggest Dragon and Lion procession in Europe – so it is definitely worth seeing!
Arrive early to find the best spots to see the parade, as it does get very crowded. There are lots of activities en route too such as craft stalls and traditional Chinese dancing in Wardour Street and Gerrard Street, while a large stage on Shaftesbury Avenue provides an opportunity to see yet more performers. Martial arts displays, workshops and crafts will be hosted in Charing Cross Road. No need to worry about food – wherever you go along the route or in Trafalgar Square itself, there will be lots of Chinese food stalls selling the best Chinese food in the area. And of course, all the restaurants, bars and cafes along the route will also be offering special menus so there will be plenty of choice. As for accommodation, book in to a place in central London like Serviced Apartments Mayfair to avoid too much of travel heck.
Once the procession reaches Trafalgar Square, the fun really begins. Throughout the day there are all kinds of stage performances including traditional dance troupes, acrobats, flying lion dances, dragon dancing and even Chinese opera. Stay late into the evening to enjoy the fireworks and a spectacular show – all of which is free!
But that’s not all! If you prefer a slightly quieter destination to celebrate the Chinese New Year then trek over to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich which is hosting five hours of free activities including a visit from Dragon dancers.
Alternatively visit the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and Gardens which takes place between 19 January and 26 February. This is something truly magical. Each night, the gardens are lit with a stunning array of lanterns. This year, the Festival revisits the ancient Silk Road which stretched from Italy to China. There are illuminated sphinx and camels, and even a version of the Colosseum. One of the most spectacular displays is that of the life size replica of the ship used by a Chinese adventurer, Admiral Zheng, to explore the seas around China. Before you head back to your Presidential Marylebone Mayfair make sure to complete the evening with some fun on the ice-rink, exotic food at the street market and try solving Chinese bamboo lantern riddles!