Celebrations & Holidays

Chinese New Year

Trade with China in the 1800s brought about a small, close-knit settlement of Chinese sailors and their families in the Limehouse district of East London, next to the River Thames, but this was bombed during WW2. The community then moved 5 miles west along the Thames to the Soho area, particularly Gerrard Street, and this is where London’s Chinatown became established.

Servicemen returning from the Far East brought with them an appreciation of the comparatively exotic food they had tried and so the Chinese restaurants flourished. New immigrant workers came from Hong Kong (a former British territory) and elsewhere. The Chinese New Year celebration, being a major event in their homelands, came too and London’s modern-day version is said to be the biggest outside of Asia.

It stretches from Shaftesbury Avenue to Trafalgar Square via Charing Cross Road, Leicester Square and the National Gallery and while it lasts a fortnight in China, here it occupies one Sunday some time between late January and mid-February. The time-honoured dragon parades, lion dances, pyrotechnics, martial arts displays, food stalls and themed family activities are also hosted by other cities, such as Liverpool, Glasgow and of course Manchester, with the UK’s second largest Chinese population.

(Top image of Manchester CNY 2016: David Dixon at geograph.org.uk / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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