Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

Hop into the year of the Rabbit

Kung hei fat choi!

That’s happy new year to you and me, yes – we’ve made it through to another Chinese New Year.  One of my favourite times of year, there are plenty of ways to get involved and see what makes it so special.

Thursday, Feb 3 and Friday, Feb 4

Burlesque dancer

Chinese New Year Cabaret

For an alternative way to see in the new year, head on down to Volupte to see Marianne Cheesecake host Suri Sumatra and Rachel Ong as they bellydance and burlesque their way through the evening.

There are two shows starting at 6:30pm and 9:30pm at Volupte, 9 Norwich Street.  It’s £15 entry.

Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane

Saturday, Feb 5

Drop-in Day

The National Portrait Gallery is holding its annual Chinese New Year drop-in day.  I went to this last year and it was great fun…it’s aimed at kids really, with lots of story telling, but the performances can be enjoyed by all ages.  You can see traditional dancing and acrobatics, and learn about the Chinese calendar.

It’s free entry and on 1pm-4pm.

Nearest Tube: Charing Cross/Leicester Square

Chinese Lanterns in NYC's Chinatown

Lantern Making

Get the kids involved and get over to the Geffrye Museum this Saturday.  Here you’ll be able to make Chinese lanterns using paper from the museum’s collection.

Activities are for those aged 11-16 and are free.

The Geffrye Museum is on Kingsland Road, and the event runs 10:30am-12:30pm and 2pm-4pm.

Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street/Old Street, then 149, 242 or 243 bus

Saturday, Feb 5 and Sunday, Feb 6

Chinese Calligraphy

Another one for the kids, this time you can learn to write in the Chinese art of calligraphy.

For children aged 6+.

It’s taking place at the Museum of London Docklands from 12pm-3pm

Nearest Tube: West India Quay (DLR)

Old Chinatown

The original Chinatown in London was in Limehouse – now’s your chance to have a tour around the area and find out what things were like in those days on this walking tour.

Tours are on Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm each day, and tickets can be booked here (scroll to the bottom of the page).  Tickets cost £6, £5 concession.

The tours leave from the Museum of London Docklands (see above for details)

Lion dancing through the streets

Sunday, Feb 6

Paint Your Own Rabbit

Another activity at the Museum of London Docklands, this time you can paint your own ceramic bunny to take home.  Suitable for ages 3+.

It’s free and painting takes place at 12:30pm-1:30pm and 2:30pm-3:30pm.

The Main Event

This is it! The big celebration in Chinatown.  Loads of stuff is happening around Trafalgar Square and Shaftesbury Avenue on Sunday.

The opening ceremony kicks off at 12pm in Trafalgar Square, followed by dragon and lion dances, acrobatics, music and dance.

Chinatown will be awash with food and trinket stalls – but the traditional fireworks display that normally goes on in Leicester Square are cancelled this week, due to the work that’s going on there.

Celebrations will be on 12pm-6pm.

Nearest Tubes: Charing Cross or Leicester Square

 

 

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Filed under Central London, E London, Festival, Food & Drink, Local interest

Chinatown…Land of the Sleeping Dragon?

Chinese New Year is on Feb 14 this year, and down in Chinatown the shops are already crammed full of kitsch curios in preparation for the main event.

Chinatowns are one of my favourite places to visit in any city, because they’re normally so vibrant and full of interesting things to see, so I decided to go and have a wander round London’s offering on Tuesday.

The gate to Chinatown

Chinatown’s main strip is along Gerrard Street, with a couple of smaller streets running off it.   Here you’ll find tons of Chinese restaurants, a medicine shop/apothecary and a couple of Chinese supermarkets, amongst other things.

The supermarkets themselves are definitely worth a look, with weird and wonderful fruit and veg on display outside, enticing you in to see what else is on offer.

Aisles full of noodles, tea and sweets are intermingled with freezers full of dim sum ready to be steamed, and crockery sets – mainly adorned with fish patterns – chopsticks and bamboo steamers.

Finding Gold

Head down some of the smaller streets and you’ll find large shops with plenty of things to go rummaging about in, including cheung-sams (traditional silk dresses), Chinese slippers, swords and everything you might need to celebrate the upcoming New Year celebrations.

Lions guarding Gerrard Street

Red and gold are very symbolic in China, so you’ll find gold cats waving their arms at you, Buddhas, and, as 2010 is the year of the Tiger, lots of red and gold soft tiger toys.  If you’re planning to go to the celebrations on Feb 21, stock up on firecrackers and paper dragon fans, and you’ll fit right in.

Feeling hungry?

There are over 75 restaurants in Chinatown, ranging from all-you-can-eats to fine dining.  For cheap fodder, sample the dim sum at the New World restaurant at 1 Gerrard Street, where carts of a variety of dumplings are brought to your table to choose from.

Chinese cuisine

Or try a few different things from the starter menu, such as spring rolls or pak choi.  There are a couple of stalls outside some of the shops selling food, which is another cheap option.

Chinatown is not for the fainthearted, though – be prepared to see roast duck and various other meats hanging in the windows of some of the restaurants!

Streets paved with gold?

Although London’s Chinatown is small compared to other cities (New York’s is like someone actually picked up a small piece of China and put it in the middle of Manhattan), it’s definitely worth a look if you’ve not been before. There are lots of interesting things to see and shops to explore, and of course the food is worth a trip in itself.

I will be heading to the Chinese New Year celebrations in a few weeks’ time, and would encourage you to head down for the parade as they’re always a fun, loud and vibrant place to see.

Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

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Filed under Central London, Local interest