Events across London include tea-tasting and craft workshops
Published: 19 February 2010
By JAMIE WELHAM
GUNG HEY FAT CHOY! Happy New Year and welcome to the Year of the Tiger.
Last year despite the event being scaled down because of the recession, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to London’s Chinatown for the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside Asia.
This year organisers promise a more professional event – a warm-up for the 2012 celebrations when all eyes will be turned on the capital.
Although Chinese New Year’s Day was last Sunday, the London Chinatown Chinese Association traditionally holds the celebrations on the first Sunday after the day itself, which also helps dodge the potentially problematic Valentine’s Day clash.
A packed programme of events in Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and Chinatown will see in the Year of the Tiger in spectacular fashion, with arts and entertainment including fire-breathing dragons, scrumptious food and the usual show-stopping fireworks display.
Following a week of community events, the big-ticket action kicks off on Sunday at 11am with world class dance acts from Shanghai including the Sichuan Art Troupe and the Central Ethnic Song and Dance ensemble.
It is understood that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been taking a special interest in the international acts.
An official opening ceremony will also feature Chinese dragons, acrobatics, lions and firecrackers.
Meanwhile in a specially decorated Chinatown there will be cultural stalls, specially crafted menus in restaurants and
lion dance displays, while Shaftesbury Avenue will become more of a centrepoint, with a theme of “Hong Kong in London Chinatown”.
Its stage will feature performances by local Chinese artists.
In Leicester Square there will be a mini market of promotional stalls and a colourful fireworks display to close the celebrations at 6pm.
Like last year there will be no street parade, which has been replaced by the Shaftesbury Avenue stage, because of the logistics of policing such an event and the disruption caused by Crossrail.
Organisers promise the parade will be back in place for 2012.
The London Chinatown Chinese Association organises the capital’s celebrations with support from the Mayor of London, the Chinese Embassy and Westminster Council.
Mr Leslie Ng, president of the London Chinatown Chinese Association said: “Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy London’s Chinese New Year celebrations, which have become a real highlight in the capital’s calendar of events.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate and experience Chinese culture, and to see what Chinatown offers – not just during Chinese New Year, but all year round.”
There are also a host of other events taking across London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is running children’s workshops next week to make good luck flags and tiger headdresses.
The Museum in Docklands is holding an exhibition looking at the historical importance of trade between London and China, with guided walks, tea-tasting and a variety show.
The National Geographic Store is holding a photography exhibition by the wildlife photographer Andy Rouse, who is famed for his ability to capture the lives of tigers.
Finally, the BFI Southbank is hosting a London Chinese Film Festival with screenings of Two Stage Sisters (1964), Yellow Earth (1984) and The Road Home (1999).
• www.chinatownchinese.co.uk or www.londonchinatown.org