How To Celebrate Chinese New Year in the UK
According to the Official Guide to Edinburgh, Chinese New Year shares similarities with Scotland’s Christmas and ‘Hogmanay’ celebrations, but 2020 is looking to be a particularly special year.
The Chinese festival begins on Saturday the 25th of January, which also happens to be the same date as Burns Night, a celebration of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. As you can imagine, Scotland’s capital is working hard to deliver the best of both worlds – Guizhou Song and Dance Troupe will perform alongside the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra in the city’s Official Chinese New Year Concert on the 21st of January as part of a partnership exploring the growing links between Scotland and China.
If you’re looking for a more authentically Scotch experience to celebrate the works of Robert Burns, Holyrood Distillery is offering an hour-long fully-guided Distillery Tour in Mandarin, complete with tastings of the best whiskey the UK has to offer.
If you’re looking for a unique, student-oriented way to celebrate the New Year, look no further than the K-Pop Chinese New Year party in Pryzm night club on the 22nd of January.
But those seeking more traditional experiences don’t need to leave Leeds – the city’s beautiful Town Hall is presented an evening of traditional performances on Thursday the 30th, while the Melody of Spring concert by the Leeds Chinese Community School and Guangzho No 6 Middle School Education Group will be sure to kick off the Year of the Rat in style.
If you’re in Liverpool, by now you’d have noticed the thousands of Chinese lanterns hung all over the city, with many buildings illuminated in red at night to honour the Spring Festival.
On the 26th of January, be sure to head to Great George Square Stage for a whole day of events, including Pagoda Arts, Firecracker Displays, a Martial Arts Demonstration and a showcase of contemporary music. Unfortunately, we don’t have space to list all of Liverpool’s Chinese New Year celebrations here, but you can check out the full itinerary of events on Culture Liverpool’s website.
Loughborough and Nottingham
If you’re based in Loughborough, it’s worth taking the train (starting from £7.40) to nearby Nottingham for the region’s biggest celebrations at Nottingham’s historic Old Market Square.
Head to the Square for the 5th annual Hangzhou-Nottingham Chinese New Year Temple Fair from 11am-5pm to experience a traditional Miaohui, a cultural gathering during the New Year period. Supported by the Ningbo government and other Chinese institutions, the Fair will showcase Chinese culture, including live music and a dragon dance!
If you can’t make it to this celebrations don’t worry – Nottingham Lakeside Arts are hosting a Chinese New Year Gala from Thursday 6th to Saturday 8th of February, featuring an array of entertainment including Kung Fu routines and music played on traditional instruments, such as the Bamboo Flute, Erhu and Guzheng.
London’s West End famously hosts the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia. Be sure to head down on the 26th of January to be amongst the thousands celebrating in Chinatown and the wider area, and enjoy delicious Chinese food, free stage performances and a colourful parade. Head down to Charing Cross Road to see Europe’s biggest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons kick off, or head to Trafalgar Square for screen shows, firecrackers and traditional dances, as well as the Lion Eye Dotting Ceremony.
Be sure to spot the Giant Golden Dragon in St Ann’s Square on the 25th and 26th of January, and head to Chinatown for live performances, workshops and food stalls from the 24th to the 26th. Those looking for a more artistic celebration should head to the city’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, and submit their entry into a drawing competition to be in with the chance of winning an original drawing by seminal artist Joey Yu.
Manchester’s famous Dragon Parade is back and better than ever, following a new route across the city starting from the Manchester Central Library at 12:30 on Sunday the 26th of January. Stick around until 6pm to top off all the celebrations with a legendary fireworks finale.
Head to Sheffield City Hall on the 27th of January to witness a top Acrobat Troupe from Jiangxi Province – with tickets starting at £6, there’s no excuse to miss this! Before the show, be sure to head to the Ballroom for free admissions to Cultural Arts and a wealth of tasty Chinese food stalls.
This post has been written by Matteo Everett