Chinese New Year: West End to welcome Year of the Pig
From traditional dances to a Bruce Lee impersonator, the capital is the place to be for Chinese New Year
08 February, 2019
HAPPY Chinese New Year and welcome to the Year of the Pig!
An exciting action-packed programme of events awaits revellers this weekend, including the largest gathering of Chinese Lions and Dragons in Europe.
Live music and shows are taking place, while street food sellers will be setting up stalls across the West End.
Traditional hand-crafted floats, sent to London from the People’s Republic, are the focus of the grand parade on Sunday.
It starts at 11am north of Trafalgar Square and will end at Shaftesbury Avenue, at the junction with Rupert Street.
In the Main Celebration Zone in Trafalgar Square the celebrations will begin with a series of screen shows and a thanksgiving ceremony at 11am.
At noon, firecrackers will be followed by speeches and a Lion Dance eye-dotting ceremony.
Dragon and flying Lion dances, organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, are from 12.50pm.
Then from 1.15pm there will be dances from the Beijing Opera, a performance by a Bruce Lee impersonator and flute and hand puppet performances by the celebrated Kunqu Opera group and Ruggieri Dance Academy.
The World Harmonica Champion, from Hong Kong, is among performers recreating English and Chinese pop music.
There will also be drum dances from Hangyou Zhou and the London Chinese Philharmonic Choir.
The Aubretia will perform traditional Chinese dance routines and at 5.45pm there will be a grand finale extravaganza of dragon dancing, light shows and special effects.
In the Talent Zone in Shaftesbury Avenue there will be a variety of performances between 12pm-5pm from emerging talents .
Charing Cross Road has been listed as the Martial Arts and Cultural Zone.
The street will be closed off and there will be a series of demonstrations from groups including the Jeffrey Alexander School of Martial Arts, Samuel Kwok, UCL Shaolin Kung Fu Club and the Silver Sabres Combat Academy.
In the Family and Children Zone in Leicester Square, Abbey Road nursery children will perform in collaboration with the London Chinatown Chinese Association. Children can try out arts and crafts and play musical instruments and calligraphy.
Join the celebrations in Chinatown
THE Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown on Sunday will be the biggest outside China.
The festivities are organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA).
The group was set up in 1978 with the aim of growing business in Chinatown and getting the British Chinese to better engage with the British way of life.
The organisation has raised funds for disaster-struck parts of China, including the devastating Daxinganling fire in 1987, the East China floods in 1991 and the flooding in the Yangtze river in 1998.
LCCA says it has donated considerable funds for the construction of new schools and hospitals in mainland China.
Introducing the event, the LCCA said: “The Chinese New Year Festival is now the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations held outside of Asia, it has become an integral part of the London event calendar and is the biggest outdoor event in London attended by hundreds of thousands people each year.
“Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely.
“Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner.
“It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck.
“Windows and doors will be decorated with red-coloured paper cups and couplets with popular themes of ‘good fortune’ or ‘happiness’, ‘wealth’, and ‘longevity’. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.”
The festival is also known as the Spring Festival and is an official holiday marked at the turn of the Chinese calendar.
Traditionally, the festivities run from the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar to the 15th day of the first month.
Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year”.
The LCCA says that celebrations have gained significance over the years “because of several myths and traditions” that saw it become a time when people would honour deities and ancestors.