Chinese New Year in the UK
Photo taken in Xian, China where New Years' celebrations include lots of flowers and lights. Their decorations remain for quite a few months.
January 22nd marks Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year for 2023 and it is bringing in the Year of the Rabbit. This will be celebrated by those from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and the Philippines as well as those in China. For these countries, the New Year is a time to go back home to visit family. Chinese New Year is celebrated in many other communities around the world that have a significant Chinese population.
The Chinese first came to the UK in the 18th Century following the British sailing to China. Due to the docks being in East London, the Chinese first settled in the Limehouse area of East London up until the first half of the 20th Century. Much of the area was bombed in World War Two. In the 1950's and 1960's there was another wave of Chinese immigrants. In the 1970's, Chinese businesses moved to the Soho area. Chinatown is still around Soho, bordering it to the North and West with the Theatre district being to the South and East. Look for Gerard Street and you will be in the centre of it all. There is a Chinese Gate on Wardour Street, opened in 2016.
London has the 3rd largest New Year's celebration in the world after Beijing and Hong Kong. Manchester has the 4th largest celebration. Other major communities in the UK that celebrate New Years are Liverpool, Birmingham and Edinburgh. There are also some celebrations in Wales.
This year on Jan 22nd, London's parade, which always features a huge dragon and the sounds of gongs and symbols, will be on Charing Cross Road and will go down Shaftesbury Avenue. There will be free stage shows at Leicester Square and food stalls at Trafalgar Square. Go to Visit London for times as they have not been confirmed as yet.
Manchester has been celebrating New Years for over 40 years. Celebrations will start on Saturday Jan 21st with street stalls in Piccadilly Gardens. They will be there until Jan 29th/23. The main event is the parade which will be on Sunday Jan 22nd. It will feature the 175 foot dragon that will show itself in the Piccadilly Gardens at noon on Jan 22/23. It will wind its way down to Chinatown. Also featured will be lion and ribbon dances, opera performances, 12 Zodiac animals and Ancient Army characters. Between noon and 7pm on the day will be food and cultural craft stalls as well as live stage performances and two illuminated dragon performances at 5 and 6pm. There will be a final illuminated dragon performance at 5pm on Jan 29th/23 which will start at Piccadilly Gardens and end at Chinatown.
Liverpool started putting up decorations for the Chinese New Year celebrations on Jan 9th, 2023. Thousands of lanterns have been erected on city streets and buildings are lit in red around Chinatown and the Chinese Ceremonial Archway. The main event will be from 11am - 5pm on Jan 22/23 at Great George Square. There will be a lion and unicorn parade, firecrackers, tail chi demonstrations, live music, a fairground and a selection of food and craft stalls. Following that there will be a projection show at the Bombed Out Church. Go to liverpoolnoise.com for the full schedule.
In Birmingham, the Lunar New Year events are free. Festivities begin on Saturday, Jan 21st with a full day of free performances. The lion procession will be at the Bullring and Grand Central with singing and dancing, drumming and Kung Fu demonstrations. There will be cultural workshops including calligraphy. On Jan 22nd, the celebrations are at Hippodrome Square in the Southside area. Here there will be many family activities including face painting, rides and street food stalls. The opening ceremony will be at 12 noon where the traditional waking of the lion will be followed by cultural dance and music. Fireworks will close the festivities at 5pm.
Edinburgh traditionally lights up the Castle in red for Lunar New Year and has a Chinese New Year Gala Concert which features the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra and Chinese performers, the Qindao Opera House Symphony Orchestra or Chinese Children's Orchestra. Special events are often hosted in the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Edinburgh Zoo. There is an exhibit of Great Lanterns of China presently at the Edinburgh Zoo featuring giant Chinese and Scottish mythical creatures.
In Wales, there is a 2023 Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival celebration on Jan 21st from 4-7pm at the Cardiff Central Library Hub. Many activities are planned including mask making, paper cutting, calligraphy, dress try-on, tea tasting, lantern making and traditional music and dance. Swansea's 9-90 Art Club will usher in the New Year on January 21st by participating in traditional Chinese handicrafts such as paper cutting as well as painting, drawing, and collages. Food will be available and families are welcome.
If you live outside these areas, check your community schedules for possible events. Alternatively, consider travelling to one of these bigger centres for an enjoyable day out.
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