Celebrating Chinese New Year in London 2022
Isn’t this time of year great? Loads of reasons to get together, celebrate, dance, eat and buy new clothes to make room for our winter bods…We just love winter.
On top of Christmas and New Year, we’ve also got Chinese New Year to look forward to while living at your London student accommodation.
After Covid ruined that last year like everything else, these upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations are bound to be full of colour, excitement, culture, delicious food and most importantly- joy.
London can be pretty tricky to navigate any day of the year, let alone when it plays host to a massive cultural celebration.
So, as we approach Christmas and the Western New Year, it’s time to plan our January and February escapes.
Without future ado, here’s the ultimate guide to celebrating Chinese New Year in London.
What Is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year 2022 marks the start of the Year of the Tiger. Each of the 12 zodiac animals in Chinese culture is also assigned an element (water, earth, fire, metal).
This year the Tiger will be a Water Tiger. If you’re wondering why the date of Chinese New Year is never static, Chinese cultures use the lunar calendar and new year always falls between mid-Jan and mid- February.
This year, Chinese New Year falls on the 1st February and London will play host to the biggest celebrations outside of Asia – a pretty impressive title to hold.
What better way than to celebrate Chinese New Year than completely immerse yourself in the culture?
Whether you’re Chinese and yearning to be home with your family at this time or simply interested in finding out more about Chinese culture, getting down to London could give you a real sense of community and togetherness.
What Are Some Chinese New Year Traditions?
Throughout Chinese New Year, you’ll see a lot of lions as well as red and gold adorned objects and fabrics.
Each of these traditional items has a meaning and reason that they’re being used during this time of renewal.
Lions and lion dances are performed during Chinese New Year to ward off evil vibes and spirits.
Using loud drums and cymbals, you’ll see the lion dancers moving fiercely and gracefully through the air.
For good luck, it is traditional to feed the lions red packets filled with money – it’s also a great way to thank the performers for their art and talent.
Red and gold are prevalent colours in Chinese New Year. Red signifies good fortune and happiness while gold stands for wealth.
These two colours, as well as the lions, are the auspicious colours and symbols of Chinese New Year.
When Is Chinese New Year 2022?
The 1st February 2022 is Chinese New Year’s Day and celebrations will be in and around that time.
Some websites are still awaiting for the official date of the parades etc and some are saying it’s the 2nd February 2022.
We would highly recommend checking with the main sites e.g. Visit London nearer the time for the exact date.
People are perhaps being cagey because of Covid and what restrictions will be like so please check before you travel.
How Can I Get To London For Chinese New Year 2022?
London is super easy to get around thanks to the Tube.
To get to Chinatown, take the Tube and get off at Leicester Square Tube Station (serviced by the Northern and Piccadilly Lines), Covent Garden Tube Station (serviced by the Piccadilly Line), Piccadilly Circus (serviced by the Bakerloo and the Piccadilly Lines), or Tottenham Court Road Tube Station (serviced by the Central and Northern Lines).
Remember to check with TFL for any service disruptions.
Chinese New Year’s Parade
Featuring the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe, the festive Chinese New Year parade is a must for anyone celebrating Chinese New Year in London.
Starting at 11am and featuring colourful floats and more than 50 teams, the vibrant parade will take place on the 2nd of February (check closer to the time) at Charing Cross Road and will make its way all the way down to Shaftsbury Avenue in Chinatown.
The parade is super popular, so you’ll need to head down there early to get yourself a great spot. Best of all, it’s free so it’s very student friendly.
There is food everywhere during Chinese New Year. When we mean everywhere, we literally mean everywhere.
Food stalls with Chinese food line streets and corners from Charing Cross Road and Trafalgar Square to Chinatown.
You’ll be able to gorge on traditional new year treats like Dumplings, Sweet Rice Balls and Glutinous Rice Cakes.
If you fancy something a bit more formal and structured, check out one of the many restaurants in Chinatown for a traditional Chinese New Year’s meal.
These are bound to be booked up, so get those reservations in now!
The home of Nelson’s column is transformed into a Chinese dance and music spectacular.
With a stage full to the brim of upcoming and established British-Chinese talent, you’ll be treated to absolute wonders.
Trafalgar Square is the main stage of the festival where you’ll usually find the biggest and best acts. It’s a great way to get an insight into Chinese culture, dance and music.
Be prepared for firecrackers, speeches, pyrotechnics, martial arts performances, a gratitude ceremony and of course the traditional Lion’s Eye-Dotting Ceremony.
Feeling peckish? Take advantage of the street food stalls in the Square that are sure to have some of the best Chinese delicacies and New Year treats around.
Trafalgar Square is also the permanent home to the National Gallery. Again, details are yet to be announced so we advise you to check closer to the time, but you can usually find family activities and cultural displays.
Once again, this is all completely free and open to all so make sure you head down with your student friends and enjoy the Chinese New Year celebrations.
West End Stages
Trafalgar Square does get pretty busy, and the crowds might be off-putting to some.
The West End has many theatres with shows that you would need to book in advance, which might be more your thing if you like a bit of calm.
There is usually a talent and community zone on Shaftesbury Avenue that will be full of performers, music, dance and comedy performances which is perfect if you want to keep Chinese New Year on the budget-friendly side of things.
Historically, Leicester Square has also held cultural activities as well as family-friendly workshops for all to enjoy.
Again, you’ll need to check if these will be going ahead. In the past, Chinese New Year celebrants have enjoyed arts and crafts, calligraphy, Chinese music, and dressing up in traditional clothes.
There are also children’s performances and lion dances so make sure you don’t miss these if you’ve got younger ones with you.
Exact details are still to be confirmed so remember to check back with Visit London.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
A perfect warm up event for the start of the Chinese New Year and is completely free, but you will need to book tickets.
The National Maritime Museum is putting on a cultural bonanza for the whole of the 29th January 2022.
You can take part online or in person and witness some jaw-dropping performances. You can even take part in tea ceremonies, learn and play Mahjong or make a traditional lantern.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a dance workshop that has proved exceptionally popular over the years and is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Make sure you get there early to enjoy all the Museum has to offer.
Chinese New Year Celebrations In London
Chinese New Year celebrations in London are like none other in Europe. We highly recommend you take part as the sense of community, unity, joy and happiness is breathtaking.
The colours, performances and food are some of the best cultural experiences you can have without actually being in Asia.
Hopefully all of these events will go ahead as planned but you just never know. We live in a time of predictable unpredictability, and you must check the latest government guidelines for what you can and can’t do closer to the time.
If you’re booking event tickets and transport, you’re probably going to need to read the fine print to see if you’re eligible for a refund if Covid restricts your movements – this includes the awful situation if you actually contract Covid.
Fingers crossed things will get better and Chinese New Year celebrations can go ahead as planned. Even if there are Covid restrictions, you can still do loads of things to celebrate the new year from your student accommodation.