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 2024, the celebrations start on 10th February and run for 16 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 2024 is the year of the dragon, a symbol of good luck, health and strength in China. Whether you want to chow down on oodles of noodles, take a tai chi class, or attend the biggest Lunar New Year parade outside of Asia, there are many places you can ring in the year of the dragon in the city. Here’s our guide on how to celebrate Lunar 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 Lunar 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 Lunar 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 three-course ‘Golden Dragon’ 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 Lunar New Year Parade
Lunar 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. Although the exact timings haven’t been announced yet, things usually get going at around 10 am.
Lunar New Year Parade | Central London
Image Courtesy of National Maritime Museum
Attend Lunar New Year events at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich
Celebrate Lunar 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, Ribbon Dance performances , and a Lunar Fans workshop. There will also be a Chinese astronomy planetarium show, Korean Calligraphy stand, and a Tea Ceremony! 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 delicious 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. So there’s something for everyone! To celebrate Lunar New Year in London, and give your tastebuds a treat, grab one of their buns to go and have an amble around Chinatown.
Bun House | Chinatown
Images Courtesy of Museum of Docklands
Attend the colourful festivities at the Museum of London Docklands
The Museum of London Docklands is hosting a free weekend of colourful festivities to celebrate Lunar New Year and showcase the museum’s historical connection to the celebration. You can expect Chinese folktales, arts and crafts workshops, ribbon dance classes, and martial arts moves. Although the events are free and many are on a drop-in basis, you have to book ahead for some, so check out their website before heading there.
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 Dragon at their Straits Kitchen restaurant with a four-course feasting menu. 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 Chef Ricky’s signature Sliced Crispy Barbecued Suckling Pig and Caviar accompanied with Deep-Fried Crispy Chicken Wing stuffed with Bird’s Nest, Fish Maw and Crab Meat.
Lunar Afternoon Tea at Pan Pacific London | Spitalfields | WA | 22nd January – 25th February 2024