Whilst in the western world, we celebrate New Year on 31st December, Lunar New Year (otherwise known as Chinese New Year) follows the moon’s cycle, meaning it begins on different days each year. In 2023, the celebrations start on 22nd January and run for 15 days, with the first day being the most important. Every year welcomes a new animal, each attributed with symbols that hold meaning for what’s to come in the year ahead, and 2023 is the year of the rabbit, a symbol of peace, prosperity and strength in China. Whether you want to chow down on oodles of noodles, take a tai chi class, or attend the biggest Chinese New Year parade outside of Asia, there are many places you can ring in the year of the rabbit in the city. Here’s our guide on how to celebrate Chinese New Year in London.
(WA = Wheelchair Accessible)
Image Courtesy of A Wong
Enjoy a meal at a Chinese restaurant
If you’re the kind of person who likes to celebrate special occasions via their stomach (join the club), then you’ll be in your element during the Chinese New Year period. There are countless Chinese restaurants scattered all over the city, from high-end spots to cheap and cheerful, all of which make for an excellent spot to celebrate Chinese New Year in London. Splash the cash at Hutong (WA) in London Bridge, perched 33 floors up The Shard, where you can indulge in a spectacular five-course ‘Year of the Rabbit’ menu, or keep it casual at My Old Place, a laid-back, inexpensive restaurant specialising in Szechuan cooking. A few of our other favourite spots to get your fill of potstickers and plump dumplings are Xi’an Impression (casual and cheap), Dim Sum Duck (for Cantonese cuisine), and A Wong (for two Michelin-starred fare).
Image Courtesy of Visit London
Head to the traditional London Chinese New Year Parade
Chinese New Year in London is one of the biggest celebrations of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia, so it’s no surprise that the parade goes all out. Hundreds of thousands of people will descend on the West End to watch as colourful floats, gatherings of Chinese lions and dragons (the largest in Europe), and costumed performers cruise through the streets of London, usually starting at Charing Cross Road and finishing in Trafalgar Square. The parade will take place on Sunday, January 22nd and although the exact timings haven’t been announced yet, things usually get going at around 10 am.
Chinese New Year Parade | Central London | 22nd of January 2023
Image Courtesy of National Maritime Museum
Attend Lunar New Year events at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich
Celebrate Chinese New Year in London at the National Maritime Museum, where they’ll mark the Lunar New Year with a series of events and workshops. There will be various Lion Dance performances, musical performances with traditional Chinese instruments, and Qigong and Tai Chi classes. There will also be performances by The Bitten Peach, the UK’s first queer Pan-Asian cabaret collective, diversifying Asian representation and providing a platform for Asian artists. All activities and workshops are free; you can book tickets in advance to guarantee entry or simply turn up on the day.
Image Courtesy of Bun House
Grab a rabbit-shaped steamed bun from Bun House
Bun House serves fluffy Cantonese-style buns from their small eatery in Chinatown, filled with an assortment of fillings, like BBQ pork belly, curry chicken, and roasted veg. To celebrate Chinese New Year in London, they’ve launched an adorable limited edition lucky rabbit bun which, to be honest, is almost too cute to eat. They’re also selling a Lunar New Year Bun Set that you can order to cook at home, including a trio of bunny buns filled with black sesame and decadent dark chocolate and mandarin, and Nin Gou – a Chinese delicacy of brown sugar and coconut.
Bun House | Chinatown
View this post on Instagram
Celebrate sustainably at the Museum of the Home’s Green Lunar New Year
This year, the Museum of the Home will celebrate Chinese New Year in London by taking a different approach to the traditional East and Southeast Asian celebrations. They’ll focus on climate change and sustainability issues in collaboration with the East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) community group Green Lions. Visitors are invited to attend a timetable of workshops and events and are encouraged to set sustainable intentions for the year ahead. There will be supper clubs hosted by ESEA chefs, eye-opening talks, film screenings and exhibitions, and a market selling products by ESEA artisans. Booking is recommended for this one, but drop-ins are also welcome.
Images Courtesy of Pan Pacific London
Keep it classic with the Lunar Afternoon Tea at The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific London
Pan Pacific London will pay homage to the year of the Rabbit at their Straits Kitchen restaurant with a four-course feasting menu in partnership with Diptyque. It’s inspired by the luxury brand’s Orange Tree and Orange Blossom scent, as orange symbolises good luck and success in Chinese culture. It’s delicious and interactive, including highlights like a traditional Rainbow You Sheng salad – a symbol of prosperity – that requires the table to toss the salad; the higher the salad flies, the more prosperous the year will be. There will also be a selection of the finest rare teas found throughout various regions in China.
Lunar Afternoon Tea at Pan Pacific London | Spitalfields | WA | 4th of January – 27th of March 2023