It’s already half way through January and you have strayed from your New Year’s resolutions? No need to worry, the Chinese New Year gives you a second chance! It will start on the 5th February! And London, on the 10th February holds the biggest celebration outside Asia, you can’t miss it! The Year of the Dog makes way for the Year of the Pig. Wear something red (it brings good luck) and join this colorful and bubbly jamboree! And the best part is that it is a free event!
What you should expect….
THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHINESE NEW YEAR IN LONDON
At 10 am head to Trafalgar Square to see colourful dragons and lions winding through the streets and traditional dances and music. The parade meanders through Shaftesbury Avenue and ends in China Town, the heart of the Chinese community in London.
From 12 pm to 6 pm in Trafalgar Square you can experience traditional dances performances, acrobatics, interactive dance lessons and important speeches. Don’t forget to head to Shaftesbury Avenue where undisputed martial arts masters will entertain you with outstanding performances.
And… don’t miss the Grand Finale! A pyrotechnic display will light up Trafalgar Square to mark the end of the Year of the Dog and the beginning of the Year of the Pig.
TIP: To get the most from this exotic experience go somewhere high. According to the Chinese believes, “to climb high and gaze far” brings good luck for the New Year.
WHERE TO EAT
If you feel peckish, China Town is the best place to savour delicious food of the Chinese cuisine. It swarms with traditional restaurants serving freshly prepared food. Try out also the street food stalls!
TIP: Order a chicken dish – having this on Chinese New Year’s Day is supposed to bring happiness for the whole family and order also a fish dish – which means that there may be surplus every year.
WHAT TO BUY
In China Town and Trafalgar Square you will find stalls selling traditional Chinese artefacts such as:
- Paper-cut window grilles: in China they are considered piece of art, part of the cultural heritage, a tradition that has been handed down from one generation to another for centuries.
- Lanterns: nowadays they are only ornamental, and they have become a real status-symbol. However, initially they were invented to be used as lamps and for the worship of the Buddha. They must have been designed very carefully not to catch fire!
- Dragons and lions’ miniatures, animals that are believed to bring good luck.
- Pig toys to mark the beginning of the Year of the Pig.
- You will for sure find the Lucky Cat, a traditional talisman that is believed to be Chinese, but actually is originally from Japan and it is called Maneki Neko, which means “Waving Cat” since it raises its paw as if it was waving in good fortune to its owner.
THE CHINESE ZODIAC AND ITS ORIGINS
The Chinese zodiac is related to astrology and it includes 12 animals called Zi Rat, Chou Ox, Yin Tiger, Mao Rabbit, Chen Dragon, Si Snake, Wu Horse, Wei Sheep, Shen Monkey, You Rooster, Xu Dog and Hai Pig. Why 12? Well, one ji (era) equals 12 years, one years has 12 months and one day has 12 time periods called shi chen. Each animal like the western zodiac signs is related to specific aspects of humans personalities and therefore, the people born in that year are supposed to be accordingly.
2019 is the Year of the Pig and those born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 and 2007 are believed to be compassionate, diligent and generous people. So if this is your case, 2019 is your year, make it special!
Enjoy the celebration and… Xin Nan kai Le (pronounced sing nee-ann koo-why ler), Happy New Year!
WHAT YOU CAN DO IN LONDON IN THE MEANTIME…
Check out our bespoke tours! Get to know London’s culture and history! Nowadays it is a cultural melting pot, but how was it in the Past? Ghosts, witches, murders and executions, London hides a dark side that only few knows. Don’t miss this chance, you won’t be disappointed.