Gallop into the year of the horse – see what we did there? – with our definitive guide to Chinese New Year celebrations around the UK.
Chinese New Year is always a good time for a party – spring is on the horizon, January payday has finally arrived, and everyone’s recovered from their post-Christmas socialising slump. In China, they welcome the New Year with food, fireworks and no end of dancing dragons. But you don’t have to haul yourself halfway across the world to get involved. Here’s a quick guide to what’s going on closer to home. Bear in mind that although the official date for Chinese New Year is 31st January, all events listed take place on Sunday 2nd, unless we say otherwise.
London’s the big cheese when it comes to Chinese New Year – the celebrations here are the biggest outside Asia, with hundreds of thousands of people attending. The parade kicks off at 10am, and follows a route along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. In Trafalgar Square, you’ve got visiting artists from China taking to the stage, while Chinatown itself is jam-packed with local artists and performers, and traditional food and craft stalls. You can get great deals at most of the restaurants in the area, too.
You’ll be seeing red in Manchester – from 18th January, the city will be decked out in thousands of scarlet Chinese lanterns, from the narrow lanes of Chinatown to the main shopping streets. There’s loads happening on the weekend itself, from food stalls to pop-up bars, but the main event is the Dragon Parade on the Sunday – expect lion dances, martial arts demos, fireworks and a giant, 175-foot-long paper dragon.
Head to Chinatown from 11pm for Liverpool’s big celebrations. The dragon and lion will parade through the streets, accompanied by all sorts of Chinese street performers. The whole thing’s finished off with fireworks, too. Around 25,000 people are expected to pack in to the area around Great George Square, so get there early if you want a prime spot.
The festival at the city’s Arcadian Centre starts at lunchtime, and includes traditional cultural performances, high-kicking martial arts displays and a lion dance, all rounded off with an impressive fireworks display.
Newcastle’s events are the week after most, on Sunday 9th February. Dragon, lion and unicorn dances take place under Chinatown’s ceremonial arch, plus there are food stalls, street performances and a funfair. There’s a children’s marquee, too, where little ones can have a go at traditional arts and crafts like calligraphy.
Lakeside Arts Centre hosts Chinese New Year celebrations from 4.30pm on its al fresco stage, with lion and dragon dances, traditional hulusi and flute music, and dance performances from members of the Nottingham Chinese School. The evening’s topped off with a firework finale across Highfields Lake.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery are hosting events on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd, between 11am and 4pm. There’s loads of stuff to see and do – everything from traditional fan dances and martial arts demonstrations to calligraphy and origami. You can also try on traditional costumes and sip Chinese teas.
The city hall sets the stage for Belfast’s celebrations. There are 2 shows – one at midday, the other at 3pm – with performances from local and international dancers, acrobats and martial arts experts, plus the all-important lion dance. There’s traditional food to sample, too, and a fancy dress competition for kids.
The Welsh capital keeps things pretty low-key, but you’ll find Chinese arts and crafts and a mini-market selling decorations and traditional jewellery at the Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay.
While you might not find any big parades or parties in Edinburgh’s streets, you will find a full-on Chinese army. Well, almost. Taking its cue from the famous terracotta army in Xi’an, the Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors exhibition features 90-odd models of men, women and children, all lit up in different colours. You’ll find them all standing tall in Edinburgh University’s Old College Quadrangle – the display is on from 4pm-9pm daily between 29th January and 7th February.