This Chinese New Year will come galloping in. The celebration for the Year of the Horse in London is slated to be as bright, noisy and happy as anywhere in the world. London is reputed to host the largest celebrations marking the Chinese Lunar New Year outside Asia.
In China, Hong Kong and Taiwan the festivities and rituals carry on over a period of 15 days. In London, however, it will be restricted to the weekend. 2nd February will be the highpoint and main day for celebrations. The Chinese community and many others too will be celebrating just as vigorously.
Officially the celebrations will kick off around noon at Trafalgar Square. It will be followed by several performances involving acrobatic troupes and traditional dancers from China. Local artists will perform at a number of sets at a venue on Shaftesbury Avenue.
The West End too will put on a show as befitting its status. In fact the New Year Parade, led by the Lucky Money God will start here at 10am. It will then wind its way through the theatre district, down Charing Cross Road before arriving at Trafalgar Square for the official opening.
Chinatown, which stretches from Shaftesbury Avenue to the area around Gerrard Street and includes a part of Soho, will be the main focus of the celebrations. There will be traditional Horse themed decorations, crafts and food stalls, plenty of dancing drumming and classical Chinese music. One of the treats will be watching the dragon dancers making their way past the crowds on the streets. Fireworks! There are going to be plenty of those and lots of bangs to go along with them.
Like the previous years, several thousands will turn up to watch the many events and participate in the numerous parties at the roughly 100 bars, restaurants and cafes in Chinatown. Of course there will be plenty of delicious food to sample as the restaurants come up with special menus.
Not to be left out, Madame Tussauds will be lighting up the building in lucky red and festooning it with traditional Chinese decorations. Among the likenesses of Chinese celebrities will be those of martial arts legends, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. They have been specially brought in from Shanghai and Hong Kong for the New Year celebrations and will remain in London till April.
Joining in the New Year celebrations, the British Film Institute will be casting the spotlight on Chinese cinema by showing over 80 films. This is part of an extended four month China season and will feature director Feng Xiaogang, China’s Steven Spielberg.
Besides the above, there will be plenty to see and do over this Chinese New Year weekend in London.