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Chinese New Year is here, so what better way to celebrate the festivities than in the city that’s known to have the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China?  Here’s some more info on the celebrations and how you can get involved.

When is it?

This year, it falls on Tuesday 5 February. But that’s a weekday in the UK so the real fun takes place on the weekend, on Sunday 10 February with the parade.

Why the Year of the Pig?

This comes from the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac calendar, with this year being the Year of the Pig. According to Chinese folklore, 12 animals were asked to swim across a river, with their winning positions dictating the years. This is the year of the pig, and those born in the year of the pig are said to blessed with great personalities and good fortune.  

How is the New Year normally celebrated?

The Chinese New year gives a chance for families to get together, to remember ancestors and pay tribute to Gods. Families often gather for food, and children receive red envelopes with money for good luck. You’ll see a lot of red to celebrate the new year, and that’s because red is believed to be an auspicious colour.  

Traditionally, families would clean their houses and themselves in the lead up to the new year. This was to get rid of the back luck from the current year and make room for all the prosperity to come in the new year.

As the clock strikes 12 on 5 February, you might hear a lot of fireworks, and that’s because fireworks are used to ward off the evil of the previous year and to welcome the new year.

I want to join in the festivities - when are they? Where? How?

@Garry Knight

On Sunday 10 February, the whole of London’s West End is a red spectacle to behold. Dragons breathe down its streets, colour, lanterns, traditional lion dances, food, song and traditional lion dances can be seen as you walk through the Chinese New Year Parade.

The Parade will start at 10:00 at Charing Cross Road, dancing its way through Shaftesbury Avenue, finally coming to Trafalgar Square. At Trafalgar Square, there’ll be stages set around the area with DJ’s and Taekwondo celebrations.

By 12:00 and 14:00, you’ll find dragons dancing on the streets of Chinatown (which is a walk away from the main campus).

Want to really get stuck into the Parade?

Our Volunteering Services have got a treat for you! Get a look at the behind-the-scenes for one of the biggest annual festivals in central London while gaining more experience in events and meeting new friends from different backgrounds by volunteering to help out at the parade.

Food and drink

During the parade you’ll be spoilt for choice with warm food smells wafting from every corner (there’ll be a lot of food vendors dotted around the parade route), but if you’re feeling some good Chinese food on Saturday or throughout the year, then UCL have put this handy guide full of flavoursome food and drink places all around London. 

It’s going to get really busy at the parade, so make sure you plan your journey in advance, wear comfortable footwear and clothing (because it’s likely to be cold). Oh, and wear something red.