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About Chinese New Year (CNY)

Find out more about the traditions of CNY and discover how it is celebrated in London.
A group of brightly dressed dancers perform on a stage in front of crowds in Trafalgar Square during Chinese New Year in London
Chinese New Year celebrations in London. Credit: LCCA. Image courtesy of LCCA.

When is CNY celebrated?

Marking the turn of the lunar year, CNY has been celebrated for centuries in China. Also known as Spring Festival and Lunar New Year around the world, this colourful celebration starts on the last day of the last month in the Chinese lunar calendar and ends on the 15th day of the first month with the spectacular Lantern Festival.

In 2021, the Lunar New Year falls on 12 February and celebrates the Year of the Ox. The main CNY events in London usually take place close to the date of CNY, with festivities in Chinatown, the West End and Trafalgar Square.

The story of CNY

CNY is based on various legends, including that of an old man defeating the wicked mythical beast Nian with the help of firecrackers and red paper defences.

The festival gives people a chance to remember ancestors and to pay tribute to gods. On Chinese New Year’s Eve (the evening before Chinese New Year’s Day), families gather together for dinner and children often receive red packets with money for good luck.

Traditionally, every family would clean their house in the build-up to CNY to ward off any bad luck from the current year, and to make room for good luck in the coming year. Openings such as doors or windows would be given a makeover with red paper decorations to bring in good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.

CNY is celebrated across the globe, with the nature of the celebrations varying depending on the location. But whether you’re on China’s mainland, in other Asian territories such as Singapore and Thailand, or in Chinatown neighbourhoods in major cities, such as London, you’ll be sure to have a good time with firecrackers, lion dances and festive food over Lunar New Year. 

CNY celebrations in London

The London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) was founded in 1978 to help businesses in Chinatown, to provide support for British Chinese and to raise funds for disaster relief in China.

Today, the LCCA continues to help the Chinese business community in London, alongside organising the annual CNY events and the Mid-Autumn Festival in London.

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.

For any sponsor or media enquiries for Chinese New Year, contact the London Chinatown Chinese Association

Discover all about the annual celebrations and take a look at our top tips to make the most of CNY in London.