Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit 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).
Details of the 2023 celebrations are yet to be confirmed, so check back nearer the time for full information.
When is Chinese New Year celebrated in London?
Chinese New Year always falls between late January and mid-February, and the Chinese New Year festival in central London, which is organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA), usually takes place close to the actual date of the new year.
In 2023, Chinese New Year falls on 22 January.
Where do London's Chinese New Year celebrations take place?
The central London festivities take place across the West End, from Shaftesbury Avenue down to Trafalgar Square.
There are lively activities and foodie treats in Chinatown; Leicester Square offers family-friendly entertainment; and while Trafalgar Square hosts the main stage performances, more stages can be found on Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue.
The celebrations also host the vibrant Chinese New Year parade, featuring colourful floats and the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe.
Check back nearer the time for confirmation of the celebrations in 2023.
Chinese New Year 2023 in London event programme
The theme and event programme for the 2023 festivities is yet to be announced. In the meantime, here is a preview of what you can normally expect in London:
Chinese New Year parade:
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. The parade kicks off in Charing Cross Road, before snaking its way through Shaftesbury Avenue in Chinatown.
The fun in Trafalgar Square usually begins with a screen show and a thanksgiving ceremony, followed by firecrackers, speeches and the Lions' Eye-Dotting Ceremony.
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, experience a taste of the Far East with street food dishes from the stalls lining the square throughout the celebrations.
You can also stop by the National Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square, throughout the day to enjoy family activities and see colourful costume displays.
The finale 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 continues across the West End with special performances, workshops and activities.
Spot up-and-coming British-Chinese artists performing dance, music and comedy at the talent and community zone on Shaftesbury Avenue.
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. Plus, look out for children's performances and lion dances.
See thrilling martial art performances, including Shaolin kung fu and wing chun, in the martial arts and cultural zone on Charing Cross Road. You can also find calligraphy and traditional painting workshops.
Head to Chinatown where you’ll be able to 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: celebrations usually take place in January or February when 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 Emirates Air Line cable car, head up to The View from The Shard or see the sights from the London Eye.
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 and Lunar New Year, 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 2023, the Year of the Rabbit, falls on 22 January.
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.