Saturday, February 06, 2016

6 Chinese New Year Celebrations in the UK

Sightseeingshoes - Chinese New Year

Monday 8th February marks the start of the Chinese New Year calendar and will be celebrated by Chinese communities around the world.  It'll also be celebrated by non-Chinese people, like me and countless others up and down the UK.  

There are many Chinese communities across Britain and there's a huge range of events and festivals across the land to help you ring in the New Year: Chinese style.   NY 2016 will welcome the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese zodiac.  

Here are some events happening where you are:

The city is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe and serves up some of the finest dim sum I've ever had.     The beautiful large arch at the entrance to Chinatown is the largest outside the Chinese Republic, so you can understand that New Year is a BIG deal on Merseyside.

The main festivities will take place in the city on Sunday 7th February, with the following:

  • Street Theatre, Great George Square - 11am-4pm
  • The 'Taste of China' Street Food Market, Great George Street - 11am-4pm
  • Traditional Lion, Dragon and Unicorn Dance, Berry and Nelson Street - 11:30am-3:30pm
  • Tai Chi Demonstrations, Great George Square - 11:30am-12:15pm and 2:30pm-3:15pm

At 1pm, there will be a massive firecracker display in Great George Square and 1,000 red lanterns will be displayed throughout Nelson Street to pay tribute to this unique Chinese custom.   

Further information about everything Liverpool has planned for Chinese New Year can be found HERE

Chinese New Year - Lion Dancing
Traditional Chinese Lion Dancing.   
Manchester has a massive range of events to choose for to help you welcome the Year of the Monkey in style.    From their Asian Street Food Village, Chinese Food Market, Dragon Dancing, Face Painting, and a celebration of 30 years of Chinese Contemporary Art, there's plenty of fun to be had for all the family.

My bee-line events are:

  • Tsingtao Beer Ping Pong Bar (because obviously) - 11am-8pm in New Cathedral Street 
  • Lion Dancers - 1pm-5pm all around the city's shopping street
  • Chinese Red Lanterns - adorning the main shopping streets, First Street, Arndale, Corn Exchange and Spinningfields.  
  • The Dragon Parade and Fireworks - 1pm (Dragon) and 6pm (fireworks) at Albert Square and Chinatown
  • Etihad Stadium Tours in Mandarin - 3pm at The Etihad on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th*

*I will understand none of this, but I LOVE football stadium tours, so this is a must see.

Further information on the events can be found HERE.

Chinese New Year - Red Lanterns
Chinese Red Lanterns are a popular decoration for New Year.
Glaswegians are renowned for their friendliness and ability to party, so you can guarantee the Chinese New Year Festival for 2016 will be an all inclusive and atmospheric event.

Starting from 12pm noon in the city's beautiful George Square, the Chinese Culture National Costume and Chinese Art Show have lined up a range of events, including:

  • Traditional Dragon Dancing
  • Lion Dancing
  • Martial Arts displays
  • Chinese Lanterns
  • Chinese National Dancing 
  • Bagpipes 

What?  You've never heard Chinese bagpipes before?  You're in for a treat, my friends.   Details can be found HERE. 

Chinese New Year - decorations
Some colourful decorations.
Although the Chinese New Year officially starts on Monday 8th Feb, the majority of celebrations in London kick off on Sunday 14th.    The capital city plays host to the biggest festival outside Asia, and it's quite a spectacle.

There are many events to choose from, but these are the highlights:

Trafalgar Square:

  • Lion Dancing (from 10am)
  • Chinese New Year Parade
  • Firecrackers (12pm noon) 
  • Chinese Dancing
  • Szechuan Opera
  • Pole Dancing (No. Not that kind...)
  • Light Projection on Nelson's Column

The festivities will surround the West End, heading towards Chinatown and ensure that no matter where you are in the area, you'll be sure to celebrate in style.

Chinese New Year - Light Show
Colourful installations. 
Chiswick House Hotel:
The Magical Lantern Festival is being held for the first time in the UK in 2016 and runs over the best part of a month, from Feb 3rd to March 6th. The Festival truly celebrates the traditions and culture of the Chinese New Year and features some spectacular installations, including telling the legend of the The Monkey King.

The lantern-y highlights include:

  • Terracotta Army figure
  • Mount Huaguo Monkey 
  • An 8 metre Imperial Palace
  • A 10 metre design of Beijing's Temple of Heaven 
  • A massively long 66 metre Chinese Dragon
The Magic Lantern Festival IS a ticketed event and prices and further information can be found HERE.  

Chinese New Year - Year of the Monkey
Happy New Year! 
Cardiff and Swansea:
Wales is also getting in on the celebrations with the hosting of a New Year party in the lively capital on Saturday 13th Feb.   The 'Diff festivities are a real family fun day and include:

  • Traditional Craft Workshops
  • Lion Dancing
  • Massive Work of Art - which you can help create! 

Meanwhile, in Swansea, the Chinese Community Co-op are hosting an afternoon of events at the National Waterfront Museum in the city from 11am-4pm.  Highlights include:

  • Writing Your Name in Chinese 
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Lion Dancing 
  • Lantern Making
  • Craft Stalls
  • Acrobatics 
  • Traditional Chinese Women's Dancing 

Details can be found HERE for Cardiff and HERE for Swansea.  

Whatever you're doing to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, be sure to wrap up warm and wear something red for good luck.   

Gong Hey Fat Choi!


Suzanne x

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