Chinese New Year In London: Where To Celebrate The Year Of The Rat

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 20 months ago

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Chinese New Year In London: Where To Celebrate The Year Of The Rat
Image: Shutterstock

When is Chinese New Year 2020 and which animal is it?

Chinese New Year 2020 takes place on Saturday 25 January 2020, although in China, celebrations take place for a few weeks either side of this. Each year is represented by one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs, and this year it's the Year of the Rat.

London's Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown

London's Chinese New Year Parade 2020 takes place on 26 January. It's a sizeable — and colourful — celebration, taking place throughout Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, and is completely free to watch. It's the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside of Asia.

It begins at 10am with parade floats on Charing Cross Road, followed by dancing, crafts stalls, food and drink, and martial arts in Chinatown, Trafalgar Square and Shaftesbury Avenue between 12pm and 6pm.

Keep an eye out for the lion dancers and dragon dancers, which are believed to bring good luck. A lion dance is performed in a costume worn by only two dancers, whereas a dragon dance consists of a longer train held on poles by many people. Many local Chinatown businesses offer up money to the lions and dragons as it is believed to bring good fortune.

Chinese New Year 2020 at BFI Southbank

Four Springs is shown at BFI

The BFI has pulled together a programme of special screenings celebrating Chinese culture for Chinese New Year, running 13-26 January. Films on the bill include Little Q, a drama about a grumpy chef who's losing his sight, and the bond he has with his guide dog. 2017 documentary Four Springs is also on the programme, about a couple preparing for New Year over a period of four years.

Chinese New Year at the National Maritime Museum

Chinese New Year at the National Maritime Museum

Make your own flag, learn about the museum's Chinese objects and learn to play Mahjong at National Maritime Museum's family-friendly Chinese New Year celebrations on 25 January.

Chinese New Year at Duke of York Square

Duke of York Square's regular Saturday Fine Food Market gets a Chinese makeover on 25 January (10am-4pm), when a special Chinese food market pops up alongside the usual traders, selling Chinese delicacies. Traditional Chinese entertainment, including a Lion Dance, also takes place.

Chinese New Year 2020 at The Cutty Sark

Chinese New Year celebrations at The Cutty Sark

Learn all about the Cutty Sark tea clipper ship's voyages to China at this family-friendly weekend of art and crafts on 1-2 February, celebrating Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year at Museum of London Docklands

Chinese New Year at Museum of London Docklands

Take the kids along to the Museum of London Docklands — located close to London's original Chinatown in Limehouse — on 8-9 February for a family-friendly festival of Chinese culture and crafts including plenty of chances to have a go yourself. Check the website for full details closer to the time.

Other Chinese New Year events in London:

Enjoy a vegetarian Chinese New Year feast
  • Rising artist collective Tangram performs a Lunar New Year concert at LSO St Luke's, combining folk melodies and brand new compositions.
  • Bertha DocHouse screens 2018 documentary China Love, about the booming Chinese wedding industry, and the burden placed on couples to have elaborate ceremonies and celebrations.
  • The Greenhouse in Newington Green hosts a vegetarian Chinese New Year feast, with cocktails, musical entertainment and dumpling making thrown in.

Last Updated 23 January 2020