If you want to celebrate Chinese New Year, you can do a lot worse than London: Outside of China, London’s celebrations are the largest in the world. The Chinese Year of the Sheep begins on Thursday 19 February, though things in the Big Smoke really get going on Sunday 22 – and it’s no small party. So grab your family and make the most of the festivities. Because that includes lots of delicious Chinese food, right?
Start your celebration on Saturday morning — take the kids down to the National Gallery for a Chinese New Year family festival day. Arrive 10:30 a.m. sharp for an hour of ‘Stories and Sound’, where the kids learn how to play a range of ancient Chinese instruments and enjoy traditional Chinese storytelling. Then from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., go on a hunt for sheep in the paintings around the gallery (it’s the Year of the Sheep, after all) and help make a huge puppet to parade through the galleries. Who knew Saturday mornings could be this much fun?
On Sunday, it’s the main event: Head north of Trafalgar Square to Duncannon Street, where you’re at the start of an enormous parade. The place is teeming with colourful floats and costumes as the rat-tat-tat of drumbeats fills the air. The kids’ eyes grow wide as they see the Chinese lion, supported by tall poles, start to dance on stage and fly through the air. The crowd is jumping and dancing and cheering — and how could they not, with all the music, acrobatics, and martial arts going on?
There is a tonne of cheery food and craft stalls all over Chinatown, but you want to get away from the noise for lunch. Make your way to the Four Seasons restaurant on Wardour Street, famous for its Cantonese-style roast duck. The sight of barbecued pork ribs and whole ducks in the restaurant window makes all of your mouths water, so order a whole roast duck (perfectly glazed on the outside, succulent on the inside) for the family. After plenty of rice and some surprise dishes thrown in for good measure, you end the day pleasantly tired, full, and ready to see in the New Year.