Things to do in London

Chinese New Year: Q&A

12:13 31 December 2013

Chinese New Year 2013 celebrations in London. Picture: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Chinese New Year 2013 celebrations in London. Picture: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

2013 Getty Images

When and what is Chinese New Year? And what’s happening in London?

When?

The occasion falls on a different date every year, because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, not solar, meaning it takes account moon phases as well as the Earth’s movement around the Sun. The Gregorian calendar (January, February, March etc) is based just on the time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun. Chinese New Year 2014 is on January 31.

How is celebrated?

The festival of new year runs for more than two weeks after Chinese New Year’s Eve, during which time gifts are exchanged and fireworks set off. At its culmination, a celebration known as Lantern Festival takes place, where paper lanterns are released into the sky, sometimes symbolising a relinquishing of past selves and an acquiring of new ones.

What’s taking place in London?

Both London and San Francisco claim to host the largest celebrations outside Asia, and last year saw more than half a million people descend on the West End. So you can expect festivities to be big – though little is confirmed yet. Events are planned in Trafalgar Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, Leicester Square and Chinatown for Sunday February 2.

And here are a few celebrations that have been confirmed: Enjoy cultural performances, food and charity stalls at this family event in east London; go clubbing in Brixton; or take your kids to the Museum of London in the Docklands to learn the art of Chinese papercutting. You could even learn more about the masterpieces of Chinese painting at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

What year is it?

2014 is the year of the horse, following on from 2012, the year of the snake and preceding 2015, whose animal is a goat.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Things to do in London

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
(Picture by Olivier Ouadah)

The masked superheroes of Mexico will do battle in Bethnal Green’s York Hall next weekend in a three-day extravaganza.

Sunday, June 28, 2015
Secret Cinema disappointed fans again

Secret Cinema organisers had yet another marred opening night at one of their events this evening which resulted in them offering compensation to fans.

Thursday, June 25, 2015
Last year's London Pride Parade was record-breaking but organisers want this year to be even better

Pride in London, the capital’s biggest one-day event, is approaching, and after more than 750,000 people came out to celebrate in the rain last year, the organisers expect gay Pride in London 2015 to be even bigger!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh

Looking out over the endless sea and spotless pebble beach, listening to the waves brushing against the shore, you could not feel further away from the hustle and bustle of London.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
The crowd in Granary Square, King's Cross, cheers as Andy Murray wins Wimbledon

Wimbledon starts on June 29 so here are five of the best outdoor screens, bars and pubs in which to watch toned tennis players hit those balls.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

With the longest day fast approaching, and warm weather on the way, ZSL London Zoo is offering visitors a unique way to spend a balmy summer evening.

Don't Miss...

What is this?

Near You Now

Competitions

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Read more
Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Read more
Adrenalin junkies, this one's for you!

An icon of British engineering and a consistent favourite of James Bond, there are few names quite as legendary in motoring as Aston Martin.

Read more