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Chinese New Year Celebrations In London

20/12/2003, By Richard, 7th Earl of Bradford

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 12303 votes


Londoners and visitors will find a taste of China in London’s Chinatown and in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 25th January 2004. As well as tasty Chinese food from stalls and restaurants, there will be a cultural feast of dragon and lion dances, acrobatics, Peking Opera, martial arts and colourful costumes, lanterns and banners, marking the start of the Year of the Monkey.

Detailed planning is now under way for this the biggest Chinese New Year celebration in the UK which last year attracted some 100,000 people with another 60 million seeing the events on television around the world.

The programme in Trafalgar Square will get under way just before 12 noon on Sunday 25 January 2004, when the Children’s Parade arrives from Leicester Square. Highlights of the programme include a unique, joint performance of two Dragons and eight Lions in front of the stage involving some 40 performers and some intricate movements (at 12.25 after the welcoming speeches).

Other highlights include, the Art of Sichuan Opera “Changing Face”, new for this Chinese New Year. As by magic the performers’ faces change as mask upon mask is removed (from 13.45). A brief taste of Peking Opera will follow (at 14.30) concentrating on the dramatic movements, colourful costumes and acrobatics involved. The programme of dancing, and music continues through the afternoon concluding with the popular aerobatics and martial art demonstrations (concluding around 17.00).

A few weeks before Chinese New Year banners will decorate London’s Chinatown. This year’s colourful design feature 12 girls in ethnic costumes from different parts of China. Some of these costumes will be featured in the Children’s Parade which starts the Chinese New Year Celebrations on Sunday 25 January. On the reverse side of the banner is the picture of a monkey, this year’s animal promising good fun and good fortune.

Just before the celebrations on the 25th, the new piazza in Trafalgar Square will take on a dramatic new look when 24 huge lanterns appear above the Square. These take the theme of Changing Faces featuring dramatic masks in different colours and facial expressions – some quite frightening!

Those in search of tasty morsels or a complete meal will find foodstalls in Newport Place and restaurants in Gerrard Street and adjoining streets serving food throughout the day and evening.

Fireworks are an essential part of Chinese New Year, more for the loud noise to scare away any evil spirits than for sparkle. They will take place in Leicester Square at 13.30. Leicester Square is also the setting for more family entertainment. The British Army, Navy and Air Force are joining forces to support the New Year. Apart from the climbing wall, there will be other fun simulators and a double-decker bus.

London Chinese Chinatown Association is organising the Chinese New Year in London with support from the Mayor for London, Shaftesbury plc, Metropolitan Police, the British Army, Tilda, Bank of China and Lee Kum Kee.

This year BBC London 94.9 will be joining the Chinese New Year Celebrations with previews, guests and live coverage on 25th Jan 2003.

More information (public) on the London Chinatown Chinese Association website and by telephone on +44 (0)20 7292 2877.

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