Celebrating Chinese New Year, London Style

Students who pick a homestay for their accommodation sometimes find that they are able to build a social relationship with their host family. London holds many multicultural celebrations that give you the perfect opportunity to celebrate together.

Chinese New Year is coming up this month is an event that is a perfect excuse for an outing with your host family. London’s celebrations are spectacular and they attract people from many different cultures to West End to enjoy a colourful parade, free stage performances and traditional Chinese food. I would recommend that you attend no matter what, but it’s a nice opportunity to go out together if you and your London family are looking to build a relationship.

What is it?

China follows a lunar calendar and on the last day of the final month up until the 15th day of the first month in the new year, they (and the rest of the world) will be welcoming in the Year of the Rat with festivities.

London has a thriving Chinese community and, over the last 20 years, its members have thrown an annual party in the capital that these days attracts visitors from across the globe. The festivities have been said to rival the New Year celebrations that fall at the end of December, so if you missed the displays on 31 December you will essentially get a second chance to be impressed!

When is it?

In 2020, the Lunar New Year falls on 25 January, with the main Chinese New Year London festivities happening on 26 January.

Where is it?

The festivities will take place in three main locations that are very close to each other: Chinatown, the West End and Trafalgar Square. I would strongly encourage you to walk as much as possible between each location as the celebrations tend to spill over into all the side streets.

You can start your visit from any of the following tube stations: Charing Cross, Embankment, Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road.

  • Trafalgar Square: see acrobats, dance performances, lion and dragon dances and music. There will be stalls serving Chinese food here.
  • Shaftesbury Avenue:  spot up-and-coming British Chinese Artists at the talent and community zone
  • Charing Cross Road: see thrilling performances of the  martial arts
  • Chinatown: get up close to lion dances and take selfies with Chinese zodiac animals 

How to Celebrate

There are a few traditions that you might want to explore if you are planning to experience Chinese New Year in London. If you attend the parades then you can certainly dress up.

Here are a few other ideas that might be nice to try with your homestay family.

  • Buy something red to bring luck to the house of your host London’s Chinatown is the perfect source of authentic Chinese decorations that will bring you luck.
  • Dine together on a whole chicken to ‘bring happiness’ to your host family. Londoners will be enjoying the symbolic foods of chicken and fish during the celebrations.
  • Find somewhere high to climb as the Chinese believe that ‘climbing high to gaze afar’ on New Year’s Day will bring luck to your studies, career and future. I’d recommend saving your visit to the Shard or to the London Eye for this special day.
  • Wish each other ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le’ (Happy New Year in Mandarin) or ‘San Nin Faai Lok’’ (in Cantonese).

At Britannia Student Services we pride ourselves on arranging accommodation for students that will give them the best experience they can have in London. For more information on our student housing options and private homestays, get in touch with our friendly team here.

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