Chinese New Year is No.9 in our list of the Top 10 annual events in London
Get down to Chinatown and celebrate the Year of the Pig. Chinese New Year falls on the 5th February this year, but the main celebrations will take place on the following Sunday (10th).
People born in the Year of the Pig (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 and 2007) are supposed to be warm-hearted, honest, loyal and gentle (that sounds like me). Unfortunately they are also supposed to be naive, gullible and short-tempered (okay, I've changed my mind -- maybe it's not me after all!). Their lucky numbers are 2, 5 and 8 -- but steer clear of 1, 3 and 9 because they'll bring you bad luck. Their lucky colours are yellow, gold, gray and brown. They lucky flower is a hydrangea, and their lucky directions are southeast and northeast (yes, seriously!).
More than half a million people are expected to descend on the capital for a spectacular parade of paper-mache lions, fire-breathing dragons and oriental dancers, making their way from Trafalgar Square to Chinatown and back again.
The parade will start in Duncannon Street (by St. Martin-in-the-Fields) at 10 AM. It will then move up Charing Cross Road to Cambridge Circus, and turn left down Shaftesbury Avenue to Chinatown. It will then arrive back at Trafalgar Square at around 12 noon, where the official ceremony will take place.
In Trafalgar Square they'll be setting up a large stage for the dance troupes, acrobats, dragons (not real ones!), opera singers and martial arts (12 noon to 6 PM). The big finale will start at 5.30 PM and will have plenty of firecrackers and fireworks, and maybe a light-show projected onto Nelson's Column (that's what they had last time).
There will be plenty more stalls along Wardour Street and Gerrard Street, and probably another stage in Shaftesbury Avenue (by the entrance to Chinatown). You might want to try some of the restaurants in Chinatown as well. It's a really great time of year to try them because all the red lanterns and decorations will be strung up, which will add greatly to the atmosphere -- it's so great we've put it on our list of 10 best annual events in London.
You might want to learn a couple of phrases for the day (just to get into the spirit of it): "Xin Nian Kuai Le" means "Happy New Year" in Mandarin, and "San Nin Faai Lok" is the same in Cantonese. But don't ask us how to pronounce them, because we haven't got a clue. You'll be hearing them all day anyway, so you should pick them up quickly enough.
Craig has never been to the New Year Celebrations themselves, but he has written a big review of Chinatown. Feel free to ask him some questions about Chinatown before you go. Or maybe you'd like to write your own review in the forum.
Craig’s review of Chinatown – “I wonder if the whole of China looks like Chinatown? It looks like one of those themed zones you find at amusement parks. A big stone dragon? check! A huge wooden pagoda with green roof tiles? check! Red paper lanterns hanging from the lampposts? check! Watercolour paintings of waterfalls and blossom trees? check! Golden cats and pottery Buddhas? check! Wizened old l… continued”
New Year’s Eve at the Natural History Museum – 31 Dec 2018 – Try something a little different this New Year's Eve and see in 2019 at the Natural History Museum's Party Animals event
Coming Clean, at the Trafalgar Studios – 9 Jan to 2 Feb 2019 – Coming Clean is a play about a seemingly happy couple whose relationship founders when a new man comes into their lives
Sir Simon Rattle — Sibelius and Hans Abrahamsen – 9 Jan 2019 – The London Symphony Orchestra will be performing some classical music by Sibelius and Hans Abrahamsen at Barbican Hall.
Sir Simon Rattle — Sibelius, Nielsen, Abrahamsen – 10 Jan 2019 – The London Symphony Orchestra will be performing some classical music by Sibelius, Nielsen and Abrahamsen at Barbican Hall.
MP Jess Phillips — One Woman’s Truth – 11 Jan 2019 – Labour MP Jess Phillips will be giving a talk entitled 'One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth' at the National Theatre
Antony and Cleopatra — Ralph Fiennes & Sophie Okonedo – 11 Jan 2019 – Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo will be discussing what it's like to play Antony and Cleopatra
Britten Sinfonia playing Delius, Mahler and Brahms – 17 Jan 2019 – Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia will be performing some classical music by Delius, Mahler and Brahms at Barbican Hall.
Check out our guide to all the daily parades in London
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
If you enjoy Chinatown then you might like to visit Gerrard Street (you can walk there in less than 1 min), Leicester Square (you can walk it in less than 2 mins), Piccadilly Circus (you can walk it in 4 mins) and Soho (you can walk it in 6 mins)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans