With Chinese New Year just around the corner, what better way to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, than in one of the world’s top Chinatowns. Why look toward the same old destinations in Asia when your could set your sights on equally fantastic but alternate places to spend your Chinese New Year? Here are four exciting places outside of Asia that do a surprisingly awesome job of celebrating the Lunar New Year; conveniently for us, British Airways flies to all four of them. From lion dances in London to festival parades in New Yorkand dramatic lantern displays in Sydney, travellers do not need to worry about missing out on all the traditional customs. Each destination offers incredible line-up of performances and activities to usher in the Year of the Monkey.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
London’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations, the largest outside of Asia, sees Chinatown and the West End come alive as thousands line the streets to take in the array of musical performances, lion dances and special restaurant menus. The main London parade along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue will take place on February, 14 followed by dance performances and traditional music in nearby Trafalgar Square. For those visiting London throughout February, Chiswick House and Garden will be hosting the UK’s first Chinese Lantern festival floats with over 50 giant hand-sculptured lanterns on display, including a 60-metre long dragon.
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
Ring in the Year of the Monkey in the city that never sleeps. New York celebrates Chinese New Year in style with dazzling visuals and performances. Kick-start the celebrations on February 8, at the 17th New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival where 600,000 firecrackers will be lit to welcome the Year of the Monkey. In addition to the buzzing festivities, there will be lion dances, performances and food vendors atSara D. Roosevelt Park to form a colorful parade. It is also believed that the more dumplings eaten during the celebrations, good fortune will follow for the year ahead.
Look out for giant lanterns which will be placed throughout Sydney this February at the inaugural Lunar Lanterns exhibition. The lanterns will represent the twelve animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac. Follow the trail and keep an eye out for the Monkey placed at the Sydney Opera House, the Dragon at Dawes Point and the Pig on Pitt Street. Other festivities include Lunar Markets, a pop-up festival with Asian food, drinks and entertainment at Pyrmont Bay Park and the largest Dragon Boat Race which will take place from February 20 till 21 at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour.
Escape to Eternal City and experience the spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations along Via dei Fori Imperiali. Similar to traditional Chinese celebrations, expect a vibrant parade of kung fu artists, dragon dances and firecrackers that create a lively atmosphere. In the evening, the main festivities begin at The Victor Emmanuel Monument and finish with a free firework display from the Caelian Hill.