Chinese New Year is coming up on February 8 and there’s nearly a month’s worth of celebrations planned across the UK.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2016 will be the year of the Monkey. Traditionally CNY celebrations start on January 31 and stretch until February 22, but these days events can begin as early as January 16.
Apparently people born in the year of the Monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 or 2004) are destined to have a bad year in 2016, but don’t let that stop you from having fun at your city’s CNY festivities.
turloughmor / Flickr / CC
The bulk of Newcastle’s Chinese New Year events are scheduled to take place on Valentine’s Day (14 Feb) in Chinatown on Stowell Street. Highlights will include traditional dragon and lion dances around the street’s ceremonial Chinese arch at 12:30pm, as well as a market and fairground on Bath Lane and Thornton Square with Chinese arts, crafts and foods on offer.
Exciting live dance performances and demonstrations will be going on all afternoon on the Bath Lane stage. Or for something a bit more laidback, how about learning calligraphy and about the Chinese Zodiac at the Chinese Centre on Westgate Road? There’s no surprise that Newcastle’s is the biggest CNY celebration in the North East.
The Chinese New Year festivities in Leeds will be going on across the city during February. Leeds City Museum are offering interactive activities and talks with a CNY theme for visitors of all ages. On February 3 you can learn how to make a charming Chinese lantern for free with help from artist Van Nong, or – on February 5 – spend a day learning more about the museum’s exquisite Chinese collection with Antonia Lovelace.
Then on February 14 the Leeds Chinese Community Association will once again host a ticketed Chinese New Year festival at Leeds Town Hall with live performances of Chinese music and dancing, as well as calligraphy, kung fu and tai chi. Visitors can also sample traditional food, browse Chinese beauty products and have their faces painted at the event.
In honour of the year of the Monkey Manchester is going all out with a Chinese New Year extravaganza stretching from February 4 to 7. A stunning light and film projection show will bring the outside of St Ann’s Church to life throughout the weekend, featuring specially created year of the Monkey artwork by local artist Stanley Chow. Colourfully dressed lion dancers will travel through the shopping streets of Manchester showing off their breathtaking dancing talents.
During the course of the celebrations you can snap a selfie with the giant, glittering golden dragon that will be taking up residence in Exchange Square, or catch Chinese musicians like Ling Ling and Henry Fung playing live at St Ann’s Square. If you get peckish there’ll be an Asian street food village on New Cathedral Street, as well as a Chinese food market in St Ann’s Square.
The action packed long weekend will culminate in a Chinese New Year parade, led by 175 foot long dragon, and some spectacular fireworks in Chinatown.
Chinese New Year is always a big celebration in Birmingham, and 2016 is no exception. Everything will be happening in Southside in the Chinatown area (both in and around the Arcadian Centre) on February 7. Nineteen thousand people attended last year’s CNY event despite heavy rain, and this year up to 30,000 are expected to make it.
Everything looks set to kick off in the early afternoon with plenty of live on-stage entertainment, including music performances, dancing, acrobatics and martial arts. A far eastern food festival is also planned, with lots of tasty and traditional treats on offer. The celebrations will finish in the evening with a lion dance and firecracker finale.
— Wai Yee Hong (@waiyeehong) January 14, 2016
Local Chinese supermarket Wai Yee Hong are hosting their annual free Chinese New Year party on February 6 at their shop in the Eastgate Oriental City. The Yi Quin lion dance troupe will be demonstrating their fantastic kung fu and lion dancing skills at the even, alongside performances from other Bristolian Chinese community groups. There will be a CNY market on site selling hot food, Chinese bakery items, bubble tea and traditional gifts. Get there early to avoid disappointment and make the most of the festivities.
Elsewhere in the city, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will have their own free celebration going on during both February 6 and 7. Here you can look forward to live music and martial arts performances, stalls, Chinese Zodiac workshops and other themed activities. You can also explore the museum’s exhibitions of Chinese art and culture.
The theme of this year’s Chinese New Year event in Brighton is ‘happier and healthier’ – a great starting point for any fresh start. The party is happening on February 3 at Clarendon Centre and tickets cost £3 for adults. Expect stalls serving exciting Chinese dishes as well as performances featuring traditional instruments, singing and dancing.
Of course there’s a lot going on for Chinese New Year in London – celebrations here are the biggest in the world outside of China itself. Firstly, the UK’s inaugural Chinese latern festival is scheduled between February 3 and March 6 and will take place at Chiswick House and Garden. More than 50 huge hand-sculpted and gorgeous lanterns will be on display.
The V&A Museum of Childhood are running fun and free CNY themed performances and workshops on February 13, as are the National Maritime Museum. Finally, the main event will take place on Valentine’s Day (Feb 14) with an enormous parade along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. Chinatown will be party central on the day, with street food, stalls, special decorations, exclusive menus and events at around 100 eateries and other businesses.
Main image: Kenny Louie / Flickr / CC