The exact date of the Chinese New year changes each year depending on the Lunar Calendar and in 2016 it begins on Monday 08 February. Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese Zodiac and this year it is the Year of the Monkey. The Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival, as it highlights the turning of the seasons and is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and the welcoming of the new year is, for most, a family affair.
Chinese New Year celebrations date back hundreds of years and the legend is that a mythical monster named Nian comes out of hiding to terrorise and prey on villagers. To ward off the monster, locals make loud noises by banging drums and setting off firecrackers. Red lanterns and cut outs were also used to keep the demon away from houses.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated in cities across the world; colourful carnivals and joyous spectacular street parades led usually by the Golden Dragon take place. Fireworks and cultural performances ring in the start of the new year and the festivities are both vibrant and exhilarating.
In Hong Kong, one of the most popular destinations to celebrate Chinese New Year, visitors can expect celebrations that will be some of the liveliest and most colourful festivities they will ever experience. The annual celebration mixes old traditions, practices and beliefs with new customs from the younger generations. Red lanterns light up the city making it even more magical and the Tsim Sha Tsuji parade with its illuminated floats, performance artists and dancers is not to be missed. Along with the magnificent firework display over Victoria Harbour.
Bangkok, known for its beautiful traditional ceremonies is where Thailand’s biggest Chinese New Year celebrations take place. The new year brings one of the most exhilarating celebrations to Yaowaraj, the Chinatown of Bangkok. There are normally three days of festivities and the streets come to life with exploding firecrackers, dragon dancers, floats and much more whilst families and worshippers all partake in the street fanfare and enjoy the sumptuous Chinese banquets. The temples surrounding the area are usually decorated and lit up and packed with beautiful flowers.
As the capital of China, Beijing is a city that combines tradition and modern prosperity and this is where the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations take place. Temple fairs have been a part of the daily life there for hundreds of years and as part of the new year events they are full of cultural activities and a must visit. The fairs are held in different places throughout the city, like Wangfujing, Altar of the Earth, Dragon Pool Park and the Ditan Park and are full of martial art displays, lion and dragon dances, gala nights, festival foods and now include a new Longqing Ice and Snow Festival.
New York city celebrates everything in style and it is one of the best cities to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The city offers not one parade, but three separate parades and several days of celebrations. The spectacular annual Lunar New Year Parade features elaborate floats, marching bands, giant lanterns, lion and dragon dances galore, Asian musician, magicians and acrobats. The New York Philharmonic orchestra also put on a very popular Chinese New Year concert.
Paris isn’t the first city that comes to mind when thinking about celebrating the Chinese New Year but the Chinese New Year celebrations has become one of this romantic city’s most popular annual events. Paris has a large and thriving French-Chinese community and the streets are turned into a haven for parades and festivities. Each year the streets of South Paris are filled with a joyful procession of musicians, dancers, vibrantly coloured fish and dragons and the city glows with the giant paper Chinese lanterns. The Chinese restaurants are packed with tourist and locals all enjoying the party atmosphere.
If you are jetting off to celebrate the Chinese New Year abroad, please don’t forget to book your airport parking with I Love meet and greet to ensure your trip starts and ends perfectly.