On Sunday 29th January, Trafalgar Square will once again host a day of revelry for Chinese New Year. With a parade, fireworks and traditional lion and dragon dances, it will be an extravaganza fit to hail in the Year of Dragon. However, if you’ve seen it all before or don’t fancy facing the crowds – we’ve come up with some alternative ways to celebrate.
Film screenings at the BFI
The BFI Southbank will be marking Chinese New Year with screenings of four films that explore China and its culture and history. Screenings kick off on February 4 with ‘Confucius’, a biopic of the legendary Chinese philosopher who lived during the Zhou Dynasty. On Feb 17/22, a moving film based on a true story ‘A Simple Life’ will be screened; followed by ‘Unseen China’ on Feb 25, a series of documentary films rarely seen by Western audiences. The season will end with a matinee screening of 1957 film ‘Woman Basketball Player No. 5’ (Feb 6).
Plant a dragon fruit
Bring a taste of the exotic to your London home – you don’t even need a garden for this one. Celebrate the Year of the Dragon by planting a Dragon fruit. As they originate from warmer climates, they like to live indoors, making them the perfect plant for city dwellers. They’re also high in fibre, protein, iron and calcium, so make a delicious and nutritious addition to juices and salads. Keep them out of direct sunlight and watered often in a well ventilated room.
Learn more about yourself on the Chinese zodiac tour
The National Gallery is giving visitors the opportunity to discover the relevance and symbolism of zodiac animals in both Eastern and Western traditions. The Chinese zodiac trail looks at 12 pictures from the gallery’s collection in order to explore the personality traits associated with people born in that particular year, and how these meanings compare or contrast with animals in European painting. Take the tour on January 29 from 1-2pm.
Theatre and tea at the Maritime Museum
On Saturday 18 February, British East Asian Heritage brings us a day of music, a giant dragon installation and performances culminating in a spectacular outdoor procession led by River Cultures. There will be a drop-in performance by Chinese sea-farer James Robson with Yellow Earth Theatre and a film screening of comedy, ‘The Chinese Feast’, plus a workshop on tea and teapots – exploring the Brits’ obsession with tea. Lydia Shellien-Walker
For other ways to celebrate, see Chinese New Year in London.