Chinese New Year begins on 31st January, according to the lunar calendar, and celebrations can last for up to two weeks! But there’s no need to haul yourself to the other side of the world to party Chinese-style. Many countries are home to large a Chinese community, which means celebrations take place far and wide and have been adopted as a part of the culture.
During the run-up to New Year in China, families buy presents, lots of food and new clothes. It’s custom for people to clean their houses from top to bottom to sweep out bad luck, and to deck the outside of their homes with lights and festive decorations. Some even give their windows and doors a fresh lick of red paint!
We’ve picked out some other places in the world that celebrate the Lunar New Year:
London hosts the largest celebrations outside of China itself, bringing thousands to its West End. The festivities are centred around Trafalgar Square, beginning with a parade that winds its way along the streets. All day long, revellers can enjoy acts visiting from China, including music, Chinese dragons, acrobatics and firecrackers, culminating in a dramatic firework display.
In Chinatown itself, the street is packed with stalls selling traditional food and crafts – but watch your back as the lion teams weave a path through the crowd! Of course, all the restaurants, which Chinatown is famed for, are decorated specially, offering seasonal menus and events. Some even give gifts to their customers, particularly calendars, to wish them “Kung Hei Fat Choi!”
Tet – Vietnamese New Year
Vietnamese New Year – known as Tet – follows in the same vein as Chinese New Year. It’s celebrated on the first day of the month in the lunar calendar and is a time for family reunions, paying respect to ancestors, and indulging in lots of food and drink!
Celebrations last from three days to a whole week, but excitement begins to build weeks before the big day. Cities and towns are awash with colourful floral displays – particularly yellow and red – as well as decorations symbolising the animal of the year. Like in China, 2014 is the year of the horse.
While you might think New Year is a good time to visit Vietnam, it’s not if you’re expecting a hive of activity. City-dwellers return to their home towns and villages to spend time with their loved ones, leaving Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi like ghost towns. But it’s obviously a great way to soak up each city’s sights without the need to weave your way through a constant wall of mopeds!
San Francisco is home to the largest Chinatown in the world – and the extent of its New Year celebrations is equally matched.
The two-week festival kicks off with the Chinese New Year Flower Fair, where local Chinese families go to buy their traditional holiday plants, flowers and fruits. There’s also the Chinatown Community Street Fair, where you can see how lanterns and kites are made, plus learn traditional arts like calligraphy. Puppet performances and folk dances are also put on during the fair.
The highlight of this festive period is the New Year’s parade, which is the largest of its kind outside of Asia. It includes acrobats, dancers, music bands and colourful floats. The finale is the Golden Dragon, carried by 100 men and women and is accompanied by 600,000 very loud fire crackers!
Xin Nian Kuai Le! – A special message from Gavin, our global CEO
May this Chinese New Year – the year of the Horse – be a truly auspicious, adventurous year for you and yours!
In Chinese astrology, the year of the Horse is considered to bring luck and good things. In the spirit of this great animal, it is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance.
All the reason why this year is an excellent year for travel. Energy is high, the desire to explore is invigorating, imagination is inspiring, and production is rewarded. Make it happen – go where you have always dreamt of. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory.
But like the powerful, remarkable horse, you have to act fast – good fortune does not wait for those who hesitate to venture far and wide.