Dragon dances, acrobats, fireworks, a parade ... London is buzzing with excitement at Chinese New Year. Find out what you can do to join in the excitement!

The event

For London’s Chinese community (and everyone else who loves a party!), Chinese New Year is a huge event. Before Chinese New Year, people make sure their houses are clean and tidy, buy new clothes and have their hair cut, to bring good luck for the new year. London has the biggest celebrations outside of Asia. Hundreds of thousands of people go to watch the parade from the West End to Trafalgar Square, which includes Chinese acrobats and traditional lion and dragon dances.

The date

The exact date is calculated according to lunar and solar calendars, so it changes every year. Find out when it falls this year in the table below. Each year is the year of a different animal.

rat 19 February 1996 7 February 2008 25 January 2020
ox 7 February 1997 26 January 2009 12 February 2021
tiger 28 January 1998 14 February 2010 1 February 2022
rabbit 16 February 1999 3 February 2011 22 January 2023
dragon 5 February 2000 23 January 2012 10 February 2024
snake 24 January 2001 10 February 2013 29 January 2025
horse 12 February 2002 31 January 2014 17 February 2026
goat 1 February 2003 19 February 2015 6 February 2027
monkey 22 January 2004 8 February 2016 26 January 2028
rooster 9 February 2005 28 January 2017 13 February 2029
dog 29 January 2006 16 February 2018 3 February 2030
pig 18 February 2007 5 February 2019 23 February 2031

You can also find out which animal you are. First of all, find your year of birth in the table. For example, suppose you were born in 2002. The table shows that the year of the horse started on 12 February that year, so if your birthday is in 2002 on or after 12 February, you are a horse. If you were born in 2002 but before 12 February, you are a snake.

The celebrations

In central London there are fireworks and stage performances with all kinds of acts and special guests. Previous celebrations have included fashion shows and Chinese hip hop acts, as well as more traditional performances with Chinese acrobats. Chinatown is buzzing with excitement. The streets are decorated with lucky red lanterns and full of craft and food stalls. If you’re thinking of eating in one of Chinatown’s excellent Chinese restaurants, however, book a table early, because you won’t find one on the night. Listen out for people saying 'Kung Hei Fat Choi' to wish each other prosperity, or saying 'San Nin Faai Lok' - Happy New Year!

Chinese people in Britain

For young Chinese people studying or working in the UK, video conferencing is a brilliant way of joining big family celebrations back home. Those missing home might also cook traditional Chinese dumplings for friends in Britain or organise an evening of karaoke, another popular way of celebrating. The festivities are not as noisy as back home, they say, where loud firecrackers were traditionally used to frighten away a terrible monster called the Nian, and the special red envelopes of money from relatives may have further to travel to the UK. But there is still plenty of excitement, happiness and good feeling, as people come together to enjoy the celebrations.


Will you be celebrating Chinese New Year? What will you do?

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Steve's picture
Steve 4 February, 2019 - 11:56

Hi my name is Steve. I was born in rooster year. I very like chinese new year. My younger brother is very like making paper lanterns.

Happy chinese new year.

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Batgirl's picture
Batgirl 15 February, 2018 - 18:45

I won't celebrate Chinese New Year, but I would really like to see all those entertaiments and to taste traditional Chinese food!

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SLMT's picture
SLMT 7 November, 2017 - 16:25

My family doesn’t celebrate Chinese Bew Year bcoz we are not Chinese.But all of my Chinese friends celebrate it. On Chinese New Year,I always go to my Chinese friends’ home and play with them together.They make many kinds of food and give us.All of them are yummy.Among them,my favorite Chinese food is called “T Kwae”. I don’t know how it is called in English.It’s just a stick food.You can have it by raw or fried with egg.China town is decorated with red lanterns and lighting.Everywhere is full with red .Fire crackers and Fire works are the essential thing in Chinese New Year.Watching fire crackers is my favorite part on Chinese New Year.

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fay4's picture
fay4 19 September, 2017 - 17:33

I was born in the dragon year ... that's cool ... If I'm gonna celebrate the Chinese new year emmm I'd like to eat chinese food because it's my favorite and I'd wear some chinese costumes ... I'd also learn some chinese phrases .. when I was a kid my fav disney princess was Mulan .. and up till now she's my favorite whenever I see the movie playing on tv I stop to watch it ^^

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rosyclouds's picture
rosyclouds 4 February, 2017 - 11:36

This year is the year of the rooster! All of our family members get together and have a big feast. I think the documentary "chinese new year" filmed by BBC shows just how we celebrate the new year.

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sanpai28's picture
sanpai28 21 October, 2015 - 10:33

I won't be celebrating Chinese New Year because I'm not a Chinese. But I love this celebration. When I was younger, I went to the street in front of my housing compound to watch the Chinese traditional Dragon and lion dances in Chinese New Year. They were so amazing and good to look. And of course, we should not forget the acrobats. They are amazing performers and have talent to make us our mouths wide open! In Chinese new year, even people who are not Chinese sometimes imitated their tradition of giving special red money envelopes to their younger relatives. We could even hear the noisy bangs of firecrackers from our house. Sometimes, our family went to the Chinatown and looked around the shops and stalls selling Chinese traditional foods and crafts. I like most of the Chinese food...they are so yummy. :) Among the Chinese traditional things, I like the toy of a cat shaking her hands front and back. I generally know that this toy is to make good lucks come into your house. When Chinese New year is coming near, we can see red lanterns hanging at Chinese houses, most restaurants and most shops.
At this time, the Chinatown in my city is very crowded with a lot of people buying crafts and tasting Chinese food. People are Chinese most and even not Chinese go there. It is a famous festival in our city, although it is not our tradition. I love all festivals that make people happy and families join together.

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katharin130's picture
katharin130 8 June, 2015 - 07:21

There are a few mistakes in the passage:
First, 'Kung Hei Fat Choi' does not mean 'Happy New Year', the phrase actually means 'Wish you will be prosperous' in English. The phrase meaning 'Happy New Year' is 'Sun Nin Fai Lok' in Cantonese or 'Xin Nian Kuai Le' in Mandarin.
Second, firecrackers are not used to frighten away evil spirits, but the fierce man-eating monster, Nian.Also, firecrackers are now banned in the urban areas of most major cities in mainland China, while they are banned in all places in HK.

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 8 June, 2015 - 09:43

Hi katharin130! Thanks a lot for your comment - we are always happy to correct mistakes. And we love to hear about how Chinese New Year is celebrated around the world. In this article we have concentrated on the celebrations in the UK, which may vary from China and HK. However, we will update the article as soon as possible to correct the inaccuracies. Thanks again!
Best wishes,
(LearnEnglish Teens team)

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 16 June, 2015 - 10:04

Hi katharin130. We've updated the article and exercises now. Thanks a lot for the feedback! We hope you are enjoying using LearnEnglish Teens. :)
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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hadia's picture
hadia 31 March, 2015 - 09:12

Chinese new year is a time when Chinese families sit together and reinvigorate themselves for the upcoming year! they share their feelings of happiness with friends and family and forget all the bad times and get ready for the coming year! Although I am not a Chinese but I really like the way they celebrate their year. Their celebrations are very nice! I also want to see their celebrations for the new year ''live'' when I'll go China.

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Akimito's picture
Akimito 18 February, 2015 - 07:01

it is really the biggest day in China,we celebrate it for nearly half of the month.before it ,we prepare it before half of the month,we buy new clothes,have the hair cut,buy a lot of candies,melon seeds and nuts.We also set off firecrackers.In the south of China,people also buy flowers to decorete their house.Today is the last year of horse,we watch TV together.Wish eveyone happy next year~

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0721's picture
0721 13 February, 2015 - 06:01

Happy New Year,everyone!We Chinese often celebrate it with our family together and I think it is really fun.It also help us learn more about Chinese culture!:)

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engleskigaga's picture
engleskigaga 26 January, 2014 - 11:42

No, I will not because I am form Montenegro. And people from Montenegro do not celebrate Chinese New Year.
But, in future I think I will celebrate this New Year.

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FaTSheeP's picture
FaTSheeP 25 January, 2014 - 17:29

I'm a chinese. So i celebrate the Chinese New Year every year. I love Chinese New Year very much because i can receive many red packet to buy something that i like. Also, i can have more school holiday to go shopping with my friends :P

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June's picture
June 23 January, 2014 - 15:28

I do not live in China but I do celebrate Lunar New Year, which, probably, is the same festival as Chinese New Year. In Vietnam, we call it "Tet". On this occasion, people clean up their houses, buy new clothes and make some traditional foods such as sticky rice cake (Banh Chung) and so on. At Tet, children are given a small amount of money called lucky money. This custom has existed for a long time with a view to wishing the children a new successful age. However, it is so sad that nowadays, a lot of people do not appreciate this priceless meaning. They just do it because of their personal purposes.
I will have 9 days off to celebrate Lunar New Year. I certainly will go to my hometown to visit my relatives. Tet is the time when we can be together, which makes me even love it more.

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Little Dragon's picture
Little Dragon 17 February, 2015 - 13:52

That's nice. I'm Vietnamese here, too. But the thing is, I've never been to my hometown for Tet, and never actually enjoyed Banh Chung or any other Tet food, either. My lucky money is usually kept by my mother for "future" use. So for me, Tet is kind of tasteless. I still celebrate it, anyway, because everyone else from my country does.

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Aioramb's picture
Aioramb 10 October, 2013 - 15:56

I like it very much, but i I don't celebrate this celebration. For me the most interesting of this information is the change of the dates of the new year celebration and I would like it very much.

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Ilehana's picture
Ilehana 21 July, 2013 - 16:06

well, here in Colombia, we don't celebrate Chinese new year, but I would like, I think is very fun and it's a way for learning about another culture

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Bosnianchild's picture
Bosnianchild 20 June, 2013 - 09:45

In Bosnia we are celebrating New Year but my culture is to celebratin Muslim's New Year not clasic new year

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