Celebrate the Year of the Dragon in London, the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people descend on the West End to enjoy a colourful parade, free stage performances and traditional Chinese food, and to wish each other "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (Happy New Year in Mandarin) or "Sun Nin Faai Lok" (in Cantonese).
When is Chinese New Year celebrated in London?
Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, always falls between late January and mid-February. In 2024, Chinese New Year falls on 10 February.
The 2024 Chinese New Year festival in central London, organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA), usually takes place close to the day of the Chinese New Year.
Where do London's Chinese New Year celebrations take place?
The central London festivities usually take place across the West End, from Shaftesbury Avenue down to Trafalgar Square.
During Lunar New Year London usually hosts lively activities and foodie treats in Chinatown; family-friendly entertainment in Leicester Square; and while Trafalgar Square usually plays host to the main stage performances, more stages can often be found on Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue.
The celebrations also usually include the vibrant Chinese New Year parade, featuring colourful floats and the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe.
Chinese New Year London 2024 event programme
The theme and event programme for the 2024 Chinese New Year festivities is yet to be announced – check back closer to the time for more information.
In the meantime, here is a preview of what you can normally expect in London:
Chinese New Year parade
You can normally watch colourful floats and more than 50 teams take part in the vibrant Chinese New Year parade, featuring the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe. In previous years, the parade has kicked off in Charing Cross Road at 10am, before snaking its way through Shaftesbury Avenue in Chinatown.
The fun in Trafalgar Square normally begins with a screen show and a thanksgiving ceremony, followed by firecrackers, speeches and the Lions' Eye-Dotting Ceremony.
You can then usually experience traditional dragon and flying lion dances and fun-filled stage performances, including Chinese dance and music shows, martial arts displays, Chinese pop hits and an exciting lineup of artists from China.
If you’re feeling peckish, there's often a chance to get a taste of the Far East with street food dishes from the stalls lining the square throughout the celebrations.
You can also normally stop by the National Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square, throughout the day to enjoy family activities and see colourful costume displays.
The finale usually gets underway with a variety of showstopper performances, including a techno lion dance and a spectacular pyrotechnic display, which lights up Trafalgar Square to mark the end of the festivities.
West End stages
The London Chinese New Year fun usually continues across the West End with special performances, workshops and activities.
In previous years, you could spot up-and-coming British-Chinese artists performing dance, music and comedy at the talent and community zone on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Or take the kids to the family zone in Leicester Square for cultural activities and family-friendly entertainment, including arts and crafts, calligraphy, Chinese music and dressing up in traditional outfits.
And see thrilling martial art performances, including Shaolin kung fu and wing chun, in the martial arts and cultural zone on Charing Cross Road. You could also find calligraphy and traditional painting workshops.
Head to Chinatown where you can usually get up close to lion dances and take selfies with Chinese zodiac animals. Or, sit down for a traditional Chinese New Year meal and festive treats in one of Chinatown’s restaurants.
Top tips for Chinese New Year
Follow these tips for celebrating Chinese New Year in London:
- Wrap up warm: as celebrations are taking place in January, the weather can be cold.
- Learn Chinese New Year greetings: Say "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (Happy New Year in Mandarin) or "Sun Nin Faai Lok" (in Cantonese).
- Dress in red: Red is the key colour of Chinese New Year. You can dress up with a red scarf, jumper or shoes – this will bring good luck for the coming year.
- Enjoy special Chinese New Year food: order a whole chicken or try dumplings at top restaurants in Chinatown.
- Buy something red: To bring luck to your year, Chinese tradition dictates that you should buy something red for yourself or your house.
- Ensure good luck: In Chinese culture, to “climb high and gaze far” on New Year’s Day or the following day brings good luck in business, career, study and fortune. Take a trip on the London Eye or the IFS Cloud Cable Car, or head up to The View from The Shard.
How to get to the Chinese New Year event
The area around Chinatown and Trafalgar Square gets very busy during London's Chinese New Year celebrations, so be sure to plan your route in advance using Transport for London's Journey Planner.
About Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is a huge festival among Chinese communities in London and across the world.
Based on the lunar and solar calendars, the actual date of Chinese New Year varies and each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Chinese New Year 2024, the Year of the Dragon, falls on 10 February.
Now run by the The London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA), the CNY London celebrations began as a small community event in Chinatown more than 20 years ago; the festivities have now become the largest of their kind outside Asia, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the capital each year.The Lunar New Year 2024 promises an exciting programme of events for all people of all ages to enjoy.