The Ultimate Guide To London's Chinese New Year Celebrations

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Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of the new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2020 is the year of the rat! Also called Spring Festival, this year’s holiday falls on Saturday 25th January and actually lasts until February 8th. With some of the biggest celebrations outside of Asia taking place in London, we’ve brought together the best of them to honour Chinese New Year this month!


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Chinese New Year in London

The main celebration of Chinese New Year in London will take place the day after the main holiday, with the capital’s annual festival on Sunday 26th. Head to the West End where celebrations will sprawl over Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road, Chinatown and beyond. With the main stage performances in Trafalgar Square and the family zone in Leicester Square, the city centre will be an explosion of colour, culture and cuisine with a huge array of authentic food on offer plus electrifying music, beautifully crafted clothes and vibrant Chinese floats. Don’t miss the brilliant Chinese lions and dragons weaving through the streets of London with this ultimate celebratory parade to kickstart the Lunar festival.

chinese new year

If you find yourself needing a break from the festival mania in central London on the 26th, pop into the National Gallery for their Chinese New Year Family Festival Day featuring loads of free fun! Including...

Zoo of the Zodiac Game

In this free crafty games session, you’ll get to learn all about the animals of the traditional zodiac and what they symbolise in Chinese culture before creating your own Top Trumps-style set of zodiac cards! Alongside the kids’ personal illustrations, they’ll rate the animal’s abilities and skills to create their very own Zoo of the Zodiac Game. All that’s left to do is compete to see who wins!

Children’s Chinese Dance

You’re invited to a watch this touching performance by children from UK China Performing Arts as they share a beautiful element of Chinese culture through the universal language of dance. The colourful display will be inspired by the ancient art of paper cutting, and afterwards you’ll be able to try the moves out yourself as these talented children teach you some traditional Chinese dance.

Paper Cut Decorations 

After watching you’ll no doubt be inspired to try your hand at paper cutting yourself. In this crafty workshop you’ll learn all about traditional shapes, symbols and intricate designs, how to make them yourself and discover what they mean in Chinese culture. After creating your own beautiful decoration with these new skills and knowledge, you can take it home to mark this special day.

bubble waffle

Grab Some Authentic Refreshment

Whilst they’ll be tonnes of street food pop ups during the festival, if you fancy a sit down meal the kids will be thrilled by Ping Pong’s fun little dim sum baskets or the flavour fusions of Indochinese restaurant Banana Tree. Both have multiple locations across London and kid-friendly menus to help introduce the children to some authentic Chinese cuisine. For sweet treats that will blow your kids minds and blow up your Instagram feed, head to Chinatown’s iconic Bubblewrap Waffle shop or Bake Chinatown Bakery, famous for their taiyaki (fish-shaped cakes!) filled with matcha soft-serve. Whilst you’re there, stop by Jen Cafe where the kids will love watching their renowned dumplings being made non-stop in the window! The fun doesn’t stop with food, though - why not grab a cup of bubble tea to refresh you from all those festivities. This famous Taiwanese drink is a milk or fruit-based tea filled with delicious bursting tapioca balls in every flavour you can imagine. Try Mooboo for the funnest shop, Cuppacha for the sweetest toppings, and Bubbleology for the original London hot spot.

Museum of London Docklands' Family Festival

After all these celebrations, you’ll be able to mark the end of Chinese New Year with a bang as well at the Museum of London Docklands’ Family Festival on February 8th-9th. Expect exhilarating performances, daring martial arts demonstrations, traditional crafty workshops and much more as the beauty, vibrancy and rich culture of China is brought to Limehouse. See the 15-day celebration off in style and welcome the year of rat at this closing day of festivities!


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