Chinese New Year is a celebration full of light, sound, and colour. The lanterns, the firecrackers, the bustle of the streets and the bright costumes, the delicious food and the warm spirits, it all makes an enchanting experience. We know where you can celebrate and experience the Lunar Year and Chinese culture at its best.
On Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year, celebrations erupt all over the globe in a splash of colour and light. The season is set to begin on Friday 16th February, and will last over two weeks in a riot of festivities. This year is the year of the dog as well as being the first year of the Earth Dog since as far back as 1958. According to Asian astrology, people born in the year of the Earth Dog are said to be communicative, serious and responsible in the workplace.
In tradition, Chinese families gather together for a huge reunion dinner on New Year, as well as cleaning their houses to remove any bad fortune on New Year’s Day. Delicacies vary for the dinner based on region: in the North Chinese dumplings are served, but anywhere south of the Yangtze River will dine on spring rolls and sticky rice cake. After dinner, families typically sit together to watch the Spring Festival Gala: one of the most watched TV shows in China. One of the main traditions is the giving of red envelopes for gifts. The red envelopes have money in, and are believed to bring good luck because of they are red. Other traditions include: new clothes; firecrackers; and of course masses of decorations. On New Year, everyone stays up until 12 to celebrate the passing of the year and welcome the New Year’s arrival.
Arguably, Beijing holds the mother of all celebrations on New Year. The festivities place special importance on the notion of family and historical tradition. Much time is spent honouring ancestors and the gods by visiting temples. Worshipping ceremonies are held at the historic buildings and temples dating back hundreds of years. There are also a number of colourful performances in traditional dress in the town squares and parks. There’ll be lion dancers, folk performers, drum shows, parades, games and delicious local food. In a more modern style, there will be the Yanguing Ice Festival which will display stunning illuminated ice sculptures. At midnight, the sky will explode with colour from a firework display like no other.
Hong Kong, China
Still steeped in tradition, but with a modern edge, are the vibrant and lively celebrations in Hong Kong. The city seems to be painted in red with the bright decorations put up on every street. An unmissable attraction is the Tsim Sha Tsui night parade, a continuous stream of brightly lit floats, followed by dancers and performance artists along the harbour front. There’s also the exciting Wheel of Fortune, an observation wheel that gives outstanding panoramic views of Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and the rest of the lit up city. Hong Kong is famed for its cuisine, and New Year offers the best of the best with local street markets going all out. For a less traditional way of celebrating the Lunar Year, head to Hong Kong’s Disneyland, with parades and performances from all your favourite characters in traditional Chinese style.
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The less-trodden area of Guangzhou is a huge and beautiful city in the south of China. Its nickname is “Flower City” because it has blooming gardens all year round. The city is known for its flower fairs and they reach a climax during New Year. The streets are adorned with fragrant and colourful fresh flowers, and miniature landscapes. The main flower fairs are the Xihu, the Tianhe, and the Liwan, catch any of these and you’re in for an experience like no other. As well the flower fairs there will also be many folk performances and art exhibitions around the city. As well as this there will be tasty southern food and parades and festivities in the streets.
Thailand’s largest Chinatown can be found in Bangkok, so you can imagine the celebrations. The Chinese community adhere to all their traditions by praying, paying tribute to their ancestors and decorating the town. There are gigantic Chinese banquets on street stalls and in restaurants. There’s always an impressive parade with red lanterns, performers, and traditional costume dress. The cultural performances work to celebrate the legacy of Chinese culture in Thailand and everyone gathers together set off firecrackers and eat delicious food.
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For a totally different experience and culture, head to San Francisco and see out the Chinese New Year there. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia, and the oldest in the US (New Year celebrations have been a tradition here since the 1860’s). During the Lunar Year the area is full and buzzing with festivities. The biggest event is the night parade with more than 100 floats including a 28-foot-long Golden Dragon. There are performances throughout the night and they are an exciting fusion of the city’s iconic quirkiness and Chinese tradition. Despite not being in China, the cuisine is fantastic and eating your way into the New Year in Chinatown is a perfect way to celebrate.
Where are you celebrating Chinese New Year 2018? Let us know in the comments below.