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25 January 2017 Location Guides

The Chinese New Year falls on Saturday the 28th of January this year, giving you the whole weekend to celebrate the incoming Year of the Rooster. We’ve come up with the ultimate guide of how and where to celebrate in London, Birmingham and Manchester; from the best street parades to the tastiest food markets, we’ve got you covered.

Here is our to-do list for each of these amazing cities:

 

London

1. See the lights at the Magical Lantern Festival 

Running from the 19th of January through to the 26th of February, this year’s festival is themed ‘Explore the Silk Road’. Housed at Chiswick House Gardens, visitors can see magnificent life-sized and oversized lantern scenes, which represent and highlight the route of trade and culture from Europe to Ancient China. Other activities include ice-skating on a fully equipped synthetic ice rink, Virtual Reality gaming experiences, drinking in an authentic ice bar, delicious hot food from around the world and mini funfair and games.

For more information visit the website here.

 

2. Get artsy at Shuffle Festival

 

If you feel like something a bit more artsy and cultured, take a trip to East London’s Chinese Community Centre where Shuffle Festival will be screening two films in celebration of Chinese New Year. Watch 'The Divide' by Katharine Round and 'A Time To Live, A Time To Die' by Hou Hsiao-Hsein, then enjoy a home-cooked meal provided by the centre. Katharine will be in attendance talking about her film which centres on seven individuals striving for a better life win the UK and USA.

The screening is happening on the 3rd of February at 6 pm and costs £15.

 

3. Get festive at the Street Festival around Trafalgar Square and China Town

This annual epic street festival will be held on Sunday the 29th, filling most of the West End with music, acrobatics, activities and pyrotechnics. A massive parade featuring lion dance teams will set off from Trafalgar Square, making its way up to the buzzing heart of Chinatown. On Wardour Street and Gerrard Street you’ll find craft stalls, Chinese food stands and more traditional dance, plus a stage on Shaftesbury Avenue will host local up-and-coming talent.

The party will kick off at 10 am, with performances ranging from comedy to acrobatics. Naturally the hundreds of restaurants, bars and cafés in the area will be celebrating too, with special menus and their own events on offer – so take your pick and enjoy.

If you’re looking for an accessible and cheap hotel room in London, easyHotel has hotels located all around the city. 

 

 

Birmingham

 

1.Try out one of Birmingham’s best Chinese restaurants

Birmingham is well-known for having some of the country’s tastiest Chinese restaurants and cafés.  Here are just a few of the best to try out:

Peach Garden on Ladywell Walk – head here for down-to-earth, no frills, tasty Chinese food. We recommend the famous triple roast - a delicious combination of Cantonese crispy belly pork, roast duck and sweet and sticky char sui pork over a portion of rice.

Wah Kee Bakery down Cathay Street in the Arcadian Centre – an unpretentious and authentic Chinese bakery, try the traditional Hong-Kong-style egg tarts freshly prepared every morning, except Wednesdays. Offering a wide range of traditional Chinese specialties and delicious homemade cakes, be adventurous and pick something new and exciting.

Chung Ying on Wrottesley Street or Thorp Street – go to one of these two locations if you’re keen for traditional Cantonese food. One of the most established restaurants in Birmingham, running for over 30 years, this place is an absolute fail-safe. Play it safe with the westernised classics like sweet and sour pork and crispy shredded duck, or see what real Cantonese food is all about and ask for their special menu.  

 

2. Watch The Dance of the Chinese Dragon

On Friday the 27th head out to watch a free street performance of the Chinese Dragons. With various performances throughout the afternoon, this is a fun and cheap way to spend an hour soaking up the atmosphere on the street, and psyching up for Sunday’s activities.

 

3. And be sure not the miss the famous Southside Celebrations

 

Birmingham’s most popular celebration happens in the city’s Chinese Quarter, and is on the 29th of January this year. Massively popular, it attracted over 25,000 people in 2016, with as many as 50,000 visitors predicted to flock to watch the "bigger and better" annual spectacle unfold this year.

A five-hour programme of free entertainment and activities will be staged in and near the Arcadian Centre, including in Hurst Street and Ladywell Walk, and includes a number of events, such as lion dances, a fire act, swinging acrobatics, oriental street food, traditional lantern making and funfair rides. There will also be a series of free workshops available at the Hippodrome.

Find the full programme here.

 

easyHotel Birmingham is opening on the 9th of February; with the perfect location from which to explore the city and rooms going for just £19.99, look into booking cheap accommodation here.

 

 

Manchester

With the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe, Manchester is one of the most exciting places to spend Chinese New Year. This year's festivities will take place from Thursday the 26th to Sunday the 29th, ending with the spectacular Dragon Parade. With a huge amount of evens running throughout the week, here is our to-do list:

 

1. Check out the Lion Dancing on Market Street

Buy a sandwich and spend your lunchtime in the city centre watching the hourly lion dances at the bottom of Market Street, close to the Boots.

Running from the 26th of January to the 18th of February, daily at 1 pm, 2 pm & 3 pm.

 

2. Head to Selfridges to pick up some free goodies

Selfridges will be celebrating Chinese New Year by running a number of promotions intended to bring Chinese traditions into the shop. Activities include: Chinese calligraphy where you can create personalised cards, fragrance bottle painting and complimentary engraving and embossing (running January 28-29 & February 4-5). There will also be a number of treats to be won, including beauty treatments and afternoon tea. 

 

3. Head to Harvey Nic’s to see Stan Chow’s Pop-up Show

 Stan Chow is one of Manchester’s most iconic artists and illustrators and Harvey Nichols in Exchange Square is displaying a collection of 20 of his works starting from the 20th of January. This is just one part of Harvey Nic’s set-up though – with live DJ sets, complimentary drinks, themed food tastings, and exclusive offers, this is the place to be over the weekend.

 

4. Take a picture with the Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors

 

Be sure not to miss this travelling art installation that features 40 brightly coloured, light up, exact replicas of some of the 8,000 famous clay statues that guard the tomb of the first Emperor of China. Originally commissioned for the Beijing Olympics Games in 2008, the warriors have already been taken around the world.

On show all day from the 26th to the 29th January in Exchange Square, be sure to check it out and get a picture.

 

5. Browse the Food Market in St Ann’s Square

Check out the incredible food market in St. Ann’s Square, running from the 26th to the 29th of January. Set up in a giant red marquee and hosting some of the city’s best Chinese food and drink, keep an eye out for Yang Sang, Dim Sum Su, Rice Bowl, Mei Mei’s Street Cart and Tampopo.

Also keep your eyes peeled for the Cantonese kitchen Yang Sing – with its 40th anniversary celebrations this year, they will be hosting a family-friendly dim sum making workshops, competitions, and prize giveaways.

 

6. And lastly, do not miss the Dragon Parade!

 

The main event is happening on Sunday the 29th, with a spectacular 175-foot dragon parading through the city. Attracting thousands of people from Albert Square to Chinatown, there are additional lion dances, street markets, and stages for dancing, music, and acrobatics set up, plus a funfair.

Starting at 12 pm and finishing with a fireworks finale over Chinatown at 6 pm, this is the cheapest and most exciting way to finish off your New Year celebrations.

 

If you are looking for cheap accommodation in Manchester, easyHotel have rooms available in the heart of the city.

 

Relevant Twitter Handles: 

@ShuffleFestival

@CentralCY (Chung Ying)

@cnybirmingham (CNY Birmingham)

@stan_chow

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