Chinese New Year festivities begin early on February 10, the first day of the Year of the Snake, with a parade of colourful floats that leaves Trafalgar Square at 10am and heads to Rupert Street. Entertainment continues in Trafalgar Square throughout the day, with the Dotting of the Eye ceremony at 12pm and a programme of music, dance, Chinese dragons, lions and acrobatics from 1pm to 5.30pm.
The centre of the New Year party, the busy streets of Chinatown will be filled with food and craft stalls. Lion dancers will entertain the throng as they snake through the crowds.
West End fireworks
New Year’s Day will be given a brilliant send-off with a spectacular fireworks display in Trafalgar Square, starting at 5.55pm. This free event is ideal for all the family and friends and a great way to start the Year of the Snake.
BFI South Bank
If you’re looking for something away from the noise and crowds of the West End, BFI Southbank is hosting a weekend of Chinese films starting on 9 February.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT, +44 (0)20 7928 3232
If you’re not in London to celebrate over the weekend of 10 February, the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, one of the fastest tea clippers to sail the seas, is hosting a day of activities for all the family on 23 February. British and East Asian heritage will be celebrated with a day of music, workshops and performances.
Cutty Sark, King William Walk, London SE10 9HT, +44 (0)20 8312 6608
Chaya Teanamu Tea House
When visiting London, afternoon tea is an absolute must, but during Spring Festival the only way to enjoy this event is at Chaya Teanamu Tea House in Notting Hill. Here you can experience a traditional tea ceremony and learn how to serve and drink tea in the authentic Chinese way. Dim sum and Chinese petits fours are served and you can have the tea made to suit your mood.
Chaya Teanamu Tea House, Coach House, 14A St Luke’s Road (entrance on Lancaster Road), London W11 1DP
Specialising in Imperial Beijing cuisine and traditional north Chinese regional cooking, Zen China restaurant on the South Bank is ideal for a celebratory New Year meal. It’s the only Chinese restaurant where you can enjoy a view of the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames while enjoying the signature Peking duck.
Zen China Restaurant, County Hall, Riverside Building, Queens Walk, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB, +44 (0)20 7261 1196
Browse Chinese-inspired watches and fine jewellery from luxury designers at Harrods and pick up exclusive accessories by MCM created exclusively for the season. Lucky red envelopes are being given out throughout the festival and the store’s windows have been decorated to celebrate the Year of the Snake.
Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL, +44 (0)20 7730 1234
Shop for signature teas and perfumes at Selfridges London during the Spring Festival, and also find the world’s top international designers in the recently renovated Women’s Designer Galleries, where you can email friends back home with photographs for feedback or the confirmation of a new look.
Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB, 0800 123400 (UK), +44 (0)113 369 8040 (international)
The Ritz London
A London landmark, The Ritz hotel stands on Piccadilly at the edge of St James’ Park and is at the centre of one of London’s most luxurious shopping areas. With multilingual staff and translator services, it is the first hotel in London to accept China UnionPay credit cards and is an ideal place to stay during the Spring Festival – or at any other time of the year!
The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR, +44 (0)20 7493 8181