This article is from London WeekendNotes for Monday the 15th of February 2010
February 14th is traditionally celebrated as Valentine’s Day in the UK, but this year go East and exchange your love hearts and cupids for a handful of red firecrackers and dancing dragons and head over to London’s China Town. From the 14th February, the official New Year’s Day, celebrations will be held to mark the celebratory period of Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) and welcome in the Year of the Tiger.
Central London will be heaving beyond its usual capacity as London’s official celebrations kick off on Sunday 21st February from 12 – 6 pm. Local celebrants mix with tourists to see spectacular displays of Chinese arts and entertainment.
The London Chinatown Chinese Association and the
Mayor of London’s Office have worked together to bring China in all its glory to Central London. Visitors can head to Trafalgar square for the official opening ceremony, followed by two groups from China, performing world-class dance, music and acrobatics. Expect Chinese dragons and lots of loud noisy firecrackers! (Loud noises keep evil spirits away).
Walk into Chinatown and you’ll be immersed in a sea of red decorations, symbolising prosperity and happiness for the New Year. Gorge on an array of culinary delights from the numerous stalls and watch the lion dance displays wind their way through the streets. Shaftesbury Avenue will represent the Canton region as ‘Hong Kong in London Chinatown’ with a stage featuring performances by local Chinese artists, and to close the celebrations, there will be a vivid fireworks display in Leicester Square.
Greet your fellow revellers by saying “Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái” (Kung Hei Fat Choi); a Mandarin greeting of congratulations and prosperity, loosely translating into ‘Happy New Year’.