Year of the Rabbit: Celebrate Chinese New Year in London

Taking place on January 22nd 2023, the Chinese New Year marks the start of a new year based on the moon’s phases. Celebrations take place all over the UK, with plenty of exciting events being held across London.

We’ve rounded up the best of the Chinese New Year celebrations to experience this January!

Year of the Rabbit

Every year Chinese communities all over the world celebrate 15 days that begin with the arrival of the new moon. Also known as the Lunar New Year, this celebration occurs between January 21st to February 20th according to western calendars. The origin of this holiday is steeped in legends based on monsters and celebrations, including red decorations, fireworks, and luck. 
The origin of the Chinese zodiac (2023 being the rabbit) comes from the legend of the Jade Emporer. He decided to make animals race, and the first 12 to finish would be rewarded with a year named after them. The animals before this year were the Rat for 2020, Ox for 2021, and Tiger for 2022.

Celebrations across London

Lots of celebrations and decorations can be seen all around London on the official day of the New Year, which falls on Sunday 22nd January. From central London to the outskirts, there is plenty of fun and festivities to get involved with. All events organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) are free to take part in.

Chinese New Year Parade

Every year central London plays host to a celebration of colour and culture on the day of the Lunar New Year. Travelling from Charing Cross Road in Covent Garden all the way down the main road finishing at Shaftsbury Avenue in Chinatown is the annual parade filled with stunning dragons, symbols and floats. The parade ends in Chinatown where the festivities are at their maximum, packed with stalls and treats for everyone to enjoy.

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Festivities in Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is where the biggest and best events of the day take place. Starting the day off is the screening show, followed by the thanksgiving ceremony packed with firecrackers, fireworks and the Lions’ Eye-Dotting Ceremony. With main stage performances throughout the day from authentic Chinese dancers and singers, and martial art displays as well as lots of family-friendly entertainment. You can also pop by the local National Gallery, where there will be plenty of fun family activities and colourful costume displays.

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Performances in the West End Stages

The Chinese New Year festivities are in full swing in the West End, with plenty of exciting performances, workshops and activities. Shaftsbury Avenue is host one of the many stages dotted around central London, with dancing, comedy, and musical performances from traditional Chinese performers. Leicester Square is ideal for family activities, including arts and crafts, calligraphy, and traditional dress-up outfits. There are also lots of Lion performances perfect for the kids. Down at Charing Cross Road are the traditional Shaolin Kung Fu and Wing Chun, traditional performances of martial arts.

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Chow down at Chinatown

When you think of the London epicentre of Chinese traditional celebrations, where better to go than Chinatown! With opportunities to get up close and personal with traditional lion dancing and selfies with Chinese zodiac animals, Chinatown is the ideal place to be for this day of celebration. Whilst you’re there, why not try some traditional cuisine from some of the local restaurants, and experience some of the festive treats that Chinese New Year has to offer.

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