Forget dark winter days and head for London’s Soho to enjoy the spectacle of the Chinese New Year. There has been a Chinese community-based in London’s Soho, in the heart of the West End for generations. It is a vibrant lively community, especially when celebrating the Chinese New Year.
The Year of the Pig starts with a bang on Tuesday 5th February, making Chinatown the place to be if you want colour and spectacle. However, the main festivities don’t take place until the following Sunday when Chinese Lion Dancers and Dancing Dragons proceed through the streets in the biggest celebration outside Asia. Hundreds of thousands of people throng the streets keen to watch the processions and enjoy some wonderful Chinese food and drink.
You can also read: The secret to skipping the queues when exploring London
Arrive early if you want to find a spot to watch the procession because the narrow streets will get very crowded. Starting in Soho, the procession passes through Wardour Street, Gerrard Street, Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road before reaching Trafalgar Square. Along the route, there are lots of activities on offer including craft stalls, Chinese dance displays, martial arts display and food stalls.
Once in Trafalgar Square, the fun really begins. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the activities in Trafalgar Square as they do not end until late into the night. Expect masses of acrobats, dance troupes, flying lion dances and lots of dragon dancers. There is even an opportunity to watch some traditional Chinese opera. As the evening comes to an end, a massive display of fireworks blasts through the sky outlining Nelson’s Column in vivid glory.
Chinatown is worth a visit at any time of the year, not just during the Chinese New Year Celebrations. Just book a stay at London House Hotel and stroll through the streets to admire the wonderful dragon sculptures and pagodas. There is an absolutely stunning Chinese gate to be found on Wardour Street, which provides a fantastic photo opportunity.
Don’t forget to do some shopping while in the area. There are some really wonderful ones offering all kinds of Chinese food and drink as well as Chinese products. Try the Golden Gate Cake Shop and Kowloon bakery for fluffy buns and cakes, or hunt for exotic ingredients in the New Loon Moon supermarket. Many of these ingredients have been imported directly from China. Above all, seek out some good luck to take home with you – buy a pretty Maneki-Neko (beckoning cat) from one of the many Chinese gift shops in the area. When you’re all shopped out you can come back to your spacious Kensington Gardens hotel where you can get a good night’s sleep.