When is Chinese New Year 2024 and which animal is it this time?
Chinese New Year — also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival — falls on Saturday 10 February 2024, 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 — 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Other Asian countries that celebrate at this time include Tibet, Vietnam and Korea.
London's Chinese New Year Parade and Trafalgar Square celebrations 2024
On Sunday 11 February, central London comes alive with a day's worth of festivities feasting. At the heart of it is the Chinese New Year Parade, which kicks off at 10.15am from Duncannon Street, then wends its way along Charing Cross Road and down Shaftesbury Avenue, before dispersing on Wardour Street around 12pm. Featuring the largest gathering of Chinese dragons and lions in Europe — and awash with traditional drumming and dancing — it is quite a sight. You can also expect luminescent floats, flags and, if you're lucky, a double-decker bus. It's free to watch, but as always with these things, if you want a ringside view, arrive early.
Also on 11 February, there are various zones around central London to explore, namely:
- Family and Culture Zone, Shaftesbury Avenue (12pm-5.30pm) inc. giant dragon display and family games.
- Zodiac and Legends Zone, Leicester Square (12pm-5.30pm) inc. dragon dance demo, cultural stands.
- Cuisine & Lion Dance Zone, Gerard Street (12pm-5.30pm) inc. lion dance and festive stalls.
- Grand Parade & Community Zone inc. parade shenanigans (10.15pm-12pm) then community activities and mascots (12pm-5.30pm)
- Main Stage Zone, Trafalgar Square (12pm-6pm) inc. live shows, arts and crafts, street food.
Events to celebrate Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year in London
Some of London's institutions are celebrating in February.
SCIENCE MUSEUM LATE: Zimingzhong 凝时聚珍 is the Science Museum's new exhibition on Chinese clockwork, and at this one-off special Chinese New Year Late, you can delve into the history of timekeeping, with added lion and dragon dancers, Chinese drummers, and New Year's arts and crafts. 1 February
NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM: Greenwich's National Maritime Museum hosts a day of Lunar New Year celebrations towards the start of the month. It's a family-friendly event, with lion dancing, hat and fan making, Korean calligraphy, a tea ceremony — plus themed talks and tours, including the chance to meet an actor playing James Robson, a Chinese sailor aboard the Cutty Sark. You can also learn how to play Mahjong. FREE, 3 February
CHINESE ASTRONOMY: Also in Greenwich, there's a Chinese astronomy show at the Planetarium. It's given in English (though bilingual shows are available on other dates throughout the year), and covers topics in ancient and modern Chinese astronomy, including the Sun, Moon, stars and space exploration. 3 and 10 February
VIETNAMESE LUNAR NEW YEAR: Evelyn Community Centre in Deptford hosts an afternoon of Vietnamese New Year celebrations, although details at time of writing are thin on the ground. 4 February
TRADITIONAL CRAFTS: Dear Asia in Aldgate is offering an hour-long session of Chinese calligraphy and paper cutting, paired with snacks, and baijiu (grain liquor) tasting. 6 February
BURLINGTON ARCADE: Mayfair's Burlington Arcade has a double header of events on 9 and 10 Feb — with a calligraphy artist creating Chinese "福" (fu) art on the Friday (outside Noxy Brothers, 1pm-4pm), and then tradition Yingge dancing by 16 pros in the arcade on the Saturday (11am-12pm). FREE, 9 and 10 February
FAMILY DAY: Museum of the Home in Hoxton hosts a day of family activities to celebrate Lunar New Year, including a reading from Eva Wong Nava of her book I Love Chinese New Year, and a chance to make animal puppets using recycled materials with The Orang Collectif. FREE, 18 February
GOLDSMITHS GALA SHOW: Down in New Cross, Goldsmith University students put on a dance and performance gala celebrating the Year of the Dragon, along with interactive stalls, and a photo exhibition, China: A Consolidated History. The ticket price includes drinks, snacks and buffet. 21 February
Food and drink to celebrate the Year of the Dragon
The obvious advice is to head to Chinatown, the heartlands of London's Chinese community, and home to a slew of places dishing up scrummy noodles, dim sum, cakes and the like. Many will be doing something special for New Year. Nearby Fitzrovia and Holborn are also scattered with excellent Chinese restaurants. For Tibetan food in London, this place in Woolwich comes recommended.
Other hubs of Asian food we'd suggest are New Malden for Korean, and Hackney for Vietnamese.
Otherwise, here are a few special Lunar New Year menus cooking for 2024:
SPEEDBOAT BAR: A hedonistic mix of the flavours and aromas of the neon-lit Yaowarat Road (Bangkok's own Chinatown) are promised at Chinatown's Speedboat Bar, with dishes including crispy pork belly and red roast pork served over rice with soft-boiled eggs and pickled ginger; and Yam Pla Salmon — a zesty salmon ceviche in a chilli, lime, and wasabi dressing. 5-18 February
YU SHENG SALAD: In Singapore and Malaysia, the mixing of a colourful Yu Sheng (Prosperity) salad promotes good luck for the coming year. You can experience the tradition — and tuck into the vibrant concoction of freshly-shredded carrots, radish, pickled ginger, fried yam sticks, pomelo, jellyfish, coriander, freshly-sliced raw salmon, crispy wonton skin and peanuts — at Rasa Sayang in Chinatown for a good chunk of February. 5-25 February
IMPERIAL CHINA: Chinatown's Imperial China restaurant has announced two special Chinese New Year menus; one for dim sum (featuring deep fried mini pumpkin buns and 'dragon beard' duck spring rolls), and one for mains (including a pork, duck and jellyfish platter, and 'Nian Gao' New Year's sweet rice rake). 7-24 February
LUNAR AFTERNOON TEA: Sandwiches are switched out for bao buns for Pan Pacific London's Lunar Afternoon Tea collab with Bun House. Fillings include lamb and bamboo shoot, and there are also custard-filled 'mandarins'. Note that this one's on the rather spendy side. From 8 February
DADDY BAO: For one day only, Daddy Bao in Tooting is dishing up a special Lunar New Year Feast, featuring the likes of lo pa co with XO sauce, and venison and plum mini bao. 11 February
BUN HOUSE: Cantonese-style steamed bun specialist Bun House is steaming up some special red lantern buns filled with miso brown sugar, alongside special Lunar New Year dishes including Kung Pao meatballs, char siu pork, Kung Pao fries and char siu oyster mushroom. 12-29 February
HOUSE OF MING: Westminster's upmarket House of Ming restaurant is offering six special dishes, including Yuanna style lamb with celery and ginger chilli, as well as a limited edition cocktail composed of dehydrated oranges, Chinese spice and a flaming garnish. 9-11 February
EXPERIMENTAL COCKTAIL CLUB: Dragon Fire, Red Lantern and Ming Dynasty are the three special cocktails on offer at Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown for a limited time — all of them featuring Chinese spirit Ming River Baiju. 10-24 February
Dragons around London
Seeing as it's the Year of the Dragon, perhaps you want to do a little extracurricular dragon-finding. If so, read our articles about the dragons of London, that time we gave all the City of London dragons names, and when we went dragon boating on the Thames.