If you thought that the season of celebrations was done and dusted, think again – Chinese New Year is up ahead on the horizon, and it’s one of the biggest and brightest celebrations in London.
While the New Year itself falls on the 25 January this year, you can expect festivities to extend long beyond that date. In fact, in most parts of the world that mark the occasion, Chinese New Year celebrations tend to go on for weeks, both before and after the day itself, with a variety of wonderful things to do. London is no different, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience the holiday in the city.
In fact, outside of Asia, London is home to the largest Chinese New Year festivities and parades, making it the perfect place to experience the joy, colour and rich culture of the festival. Look out for great deals at the Chilworth Hotel Paddington to help you plan your stay in the city, and read on to find out more about how to celebrate the holiday in style.
The Chinese New Year Parade
One of the biggest and most well-known parts of London’s Chinese New Year celebrations is the enormous parade that takes place in the city. London’s Chinese New Year parade is one of the biggest and most spectacular events, and always worth catching a glimpse of.
The parade normally begins around 10 am near Trafalgar Square, and continues on its route through towards Chinatown. If you’re not sure where to go, simply follow the crowds and the music – the parade attracts thousands of visitors, and if you want a good spot to view it from, it’s worth getting there a little early.
As the parade moves through, you’ll see an incredible variety of performers, including dancers, musicians, and those famous dancing dragons and lions. As this is the Year of the Rat, you can probably expect to see a fair few rat costumes and mementos too.
The parade can certainly be a busy and overwhelming event, and while it’s lots of fun to watch, it can certainly get tiring, especially if you’re there with children. So if you need a little calm respite afterward, check out a soothing afternoon tea near Paddington Station or a lovely spa near Paddington to help you unwind.
Check out the various stages
As well as the parade itself, there are plenty of other attractions and events taking place in central London to celebrate the special holiday. If you don’t want to get caught up in the crowds around the main parade, there is still plenty to see and some great alternatives that can be a little less crowded, and easy to enjoy.
Around the route of the parade, you’ll find a variety of stages and areas dedicated to different activities, including martial arts displays, family-friendly spaces and more. With so much to see, you never run the risk of getting bored here.
In the main celebration zone, close to Trafalgar Square, you’ll find a great hub of activity, including street performers and market stalls selling souvenirs, food and trinkets to mark the New Year. A little further down, you’ll be able to see more displays of the rich variety of culture that makes up China, at the martial arts and culture zone. See breath-taking displays of martial art feats, and marvel at the beautiful traditional dances.
When you get peckish, it’s time to head towards Chinatown, where the food zone is set up. You’ll find all kinds of mouth-watering goodies to try out and indulge in here, including plenty of traditional sweets and pastries that are eaten at New Years, as well as delicious savory street food snacks.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead of the day before heading down, as it is a busy and popular event. It’s easy to get to the area from the Chilworth Hotel Paddington by Tube or by bus, but be aware that it will often be busy, so you may want to time your journey a little earlier, to avoid packed train carriages. The two best stations to use for the main celebrations are Charing Cross and Leicester Square, and you can get to Chinatown itself on foot within minutes. Once there, don’t forget to get a good shot of the famous golden gates.
Celebrate with a tasty meal
As with most popular celebrations the world over, one of the best ways to mark Chinese New Year is with a feast of delicious food. There’s a huge variety of tasty food to try out when you’re in London, from a classic Indian afternoon tea to more traditional Chinese dishes and snacks.
If you head to Chinatown, you’ll find a great range of cafes and restaurants around the area which serve some excellent Chinese food of all different kinds. From delicious and spicy noodle-based dishes, which are perfect when you’re feeling very hungry, to takeaway crunchy treats from some of the smaller stalls around, it’s best to come with a good appetite and be willing to try out everything new.
For those with a sweet tooth, lookout for some of the fantastic bakeries in the area, including the famous Golden Gate Cake Shop. They boast a huge variety of baked treats, including some deliciously light and fluffy buns that are filled with all kinds of special fillings.
After all your indulgence, you might be in need of a drink or two to help wash it all down, and you don’t need to head very far from Chinatown to quench your thirst. Cocktail lovers will not want to miss a trip to the Experimental Cocktail Club, where you can try out all kinds of inventive and delicious concoctions. If you prefer something non-alcoholic, look out for bubble tea drinks in various fruit and milk-based flavors. With their delicious fruity or tapioca pearls, bubble teas are a fun and delicious way to refresh yourself.