With the Chinese New Year officially upon us, it is time to decide how to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Rat – the first animal in the Chinese zodiac cycle.
In Chinese culture, the rat is seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Married couples would also traditionally pray to the rat in hope of children due to its high reproduction rate.
Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson watched a performance of giant dragons along Downing Street, and he will be hosting a reception for the British Chinese community to celebrate the advent of Lunar New Year, which lasts until 8 February.
Outside of Asia, there is nowhere better or bigger to celebrate the Chinese New Year than in London. Here City A.M. has compiled a list of everything you can do today.
13-26 January – £10-25
The British Film Institute Southbank has a programme of screenings showcasing some of the best of Chinese cinema.
This includes Little Q, a drama about a grumpy chef who starts to lose his sight and finds a new lease of life in his guide dog, and the 2017 documentary Four Springs which follows a couple preparing for New Year over a four year period.
A matinee screening of Mountains May Depart is free for over-60s.
National Maritime Museum
25 January – Free entry
The museum is hosting a day of family activities including arts and crafts and a performance from Step Out Arts and the Guizhou Song and Dance Ensemble.
There will also be origami, flag printing, Chinese storytelling and the chance to learn to play the game Mahjong.
The day of celebration runs from 11am-4pm with sessions in Mandarin and English.
Duke of York Square
25 January – Free entry
The square’s regular Saturday Fine Food Market is getting an Asian makeover with a special Chinese market serving traditional delicacies and entertainment alongside the usual traders. The market will open 10am-4pm.
W London’s ‘One Night in Shanghai’
25 January – Free
Leicester Square’s The Perception at W London is hosting a Shanghai-inspired Chinese New Year party. Celebrate into the early hours with DJs, dragon dancers and Eastern-inspired cocktails.
Lunar New Year Premieres with Tangram
25 January – £12-16
The rising artist collective Tangram will perform at London Symphony Orchestra St Luke’s for a new year concert. The show will weave together Chinese and contemporary classical music and remix ideas of what music can be.
There is a panel discussion with composers and ethnomusicologists before the performance.
London’s Chinese New Year Parade
26 January – Free
As London’s main hub of celebration, Chinatown will be full of lion dances, street performers, craft stalls, Chinese zodiac animals and music.
The colourful carnival parade begins on Charing Cross Road at 10am.
It will make its way down Shaftesbury Avenue where there will be a cultural zone of stages, DJs and taekwondo demonstrations, before floating down to finish in Trafalgar Square.
The National Gallery
26 January – Free
Celebrate at the gallery’s family festival day in collaboration with London Chinatown Chinese Association and Happy Mandarin.
There will be children’s Chinese dance shows, sweet dumpling workshops and Mandarin story and rhyme sessions. Places are limited so advanced booking is recommended.
The Cutty Sark
1-2 February – Free with admission to the ship (£6.75-15)
Cutty Sark is running art workshops inspired by the tea clipper’s voyages to China where families can decorate their own Chinese fans.
Museum of London Docklands
8-9 February – Free
Enjoy performances, martial arts demonstrations and creative workshops across the weekend at the museum’s family-friendly event. Suitable for all ages, activities start at 11am.
Some sessions will be available to book in advance and may have a small charge.
Until 9 February – £45pp
Chef Andrew Wong has created a special five-course feast to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Dishes include a prosperity salad, black truffled pumpkin with egg emulsion, Fuji apple with orange sorbet and the signature three treasure trio of roasted meats. Staff will also be handing out fortune cookies filled with prizes.
The menu is available for lunch and dinner every day, excluding Saturday lunch time.