The biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia are about to kick off and
its all happening around the corner from Pinks Mews.
Marking the turn of the lunar year, 2019 is the Year of the Pig in the Chinese calendar. New year festivities will run from 5th February, with the main London celebrations falling on Sunday 10th February and a lantern festival being held on the final day – 19th February.
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a hugely exciting time in London. The city is dotted with red and gold decorations, traditional lion dances, elaborate dragon parades, live music and delicious food. It has been celebrated for centuries in China and London’s festivities commemorating the holiday are the biggest outside of Asia.
The main Chinese New Year eventstake place in London’s Chinatown, the West End and Trafalgar Square on 10 February, drawing thousands of people to the capital a mere walking distancefrom Pinks Mews! Here’s everything you need to know, from the legendary rootsof the holiday to the best restaurants offering Chinese cuisine.
Chinese New Year is based on various legends, which encourage people to remember their ancestors and pay tribute to the gods. One legend tells of an old man defeating a wicked mythical lion-like beast named Nian (the Chinese word for year) who terrorised villagers. The old man rallied locals to ward off Nian by banging drums, using firecrackers and creating red paper barricades to hang in doorways, the colour of which they believed scared Nian away.
This is the root of many of the traditions still practiced today, such as decorating the house in red, gifting children red envelopes containing money, shooting firecrackers on New Year’s Eve to send the old year away and welcome the new.
Read about other Chinese New Year myths here
Planning the perfect day
On Sunday 10th February, head to Charing Cross Road for 10am to see the first dragon and lion dances, which will wind their way through the streets to China Town. At noon, Trafalgar Square’s main stages will spring into action with various performing arts such as traditional dance, contemporary hip-hop acts and Chinese performers, as well as a martial art and a cultural zone at Shaftesbury Avenue, complete with DJs, calligraphy workshops and taekwondo demonstrations. Make sure you head back to Trafalgar Square by 5.45 to witness the incredible closing pyrotechnics display!
To make the most of London’s fantastic dining choices, book a table at one of the best Chinese restaurants. Here are a few of our favourites, all close by to Pinks Mews:
Yautacha in Soho is a dim sum teahouse offering contemporary Cantonese patisserie inspired by European culinary techniques. They have an impressive list of tea, fine wines and unique cocktails to wash it all down.
Bao Fa Garden
Bao Fa Garden offers a fine dining experience with the bonus of a prize view over the Thames in front of the London Eye. The restaurant traces its heritage to over 100 years ago in northern China, where the first Bao Fa Garden was opened.
Hakkasan Hanway Place
Michelin starred Hakkasan Hanway Place delights every sense. Chef Tong Chee Hwee heads the kitchen – creator of signature dishes such as Peking duck with caviar and Grilled Wagyu beef with king soy sauce. The open plan kitchen adds theatre to your experience as you watch the chefs’ masterful activity.
If you want to bring good luck
During Chinese New Year, you might find people greeting you in Cantonese and Mandarin. If you’d like to respond in the same language, “Happy New Year” in Cantonese is “San Nin Faai Lok” (pronounced san knee fy lock) and in Mandarin is “Xin Nian Kuai Le”(pronounced sing nee-ann
Those visiting for the Chinese New Year from overseas will be pleased to know that the capital is home to world-class language schools, with classes to help make the most of thei London experience.
Where will you be celebrating Chinese New Year 2019? Tell us