Chinese New Year is one of my favourite festivals. I love the intricate designs, beautiful red lanterns, traditional clothing and excellent food. It usually occurs between late Jan to Mid February, on different dates each year due to the lunisolar cycles.
2018 is the Year of the Dog. Dogs are a (hu)man’s best friend and very loyal creatures so this is a pretty strong year to be associated with! As you may know, each cycle occurs every 12 years with 12 different animals. I was born in the Year of the Monkey (which last occurred in 2016)..a few traits include being witty, mischievous, curious..and surely cheeky!?
The colour red is very important in Chinese culture, but particularly during this time along with the lanterns and firecrackers. I read about a mythical beast called Nian who used to eat children in villages and one day a villager discovered that the colour red and loud noises scared away the creature so boom, a tradition was born!
Wherever you are in the world, there are bound to be celebrations going on. London has a free Chinese New Year event that happens in the West End every year (2018 being the 16th year!) so I decided to check it out.
I wore as much red as I could find, but unfortunately I don’t own any dog pattern accessories!
The event usually occurs on the Sunday closest to the date of the New Year (this year it was on 18th Feb, 2 days after the official date). It started with a parade in the morning at Charing Cross leading towards Shaftesbury Avenue. We arrived at midday where Trafalgar Square was filled to the brim (as expected). It was hard to get in but we could see the stalls and stage on which various acts were to perform.
We made our way to ChinaTown (via Leicester Sq) where we found a beautiful display of lanterns, dragons dancing outside different restaurants and of course plenty of places to eat and drink. We even found Pikachu! If you manage to pick the right restaurant, you get a perfect view of the performances from the inside.
Shaftesbury Avenue had martial arts on stage and also people dressed as Pandas giving away freebies! There were also remnants of the beautiful floats from earlier.
We walked down to Covent Garden where they had women from the designer accessories shop Radley wandering around with the cutest dogs to promote the celebrations and I managed to take the most perfect shot!
ChinaTown has so many incredible restaurants (Golden Dragon being my favourite). They range from buffets to the very fancy sit downs, dessert places and bubble tea shops! But outside of it, there are plenty more to enjoy so here’s a short list of my favourites in South London:
Dragon Castle. Sit down restaurant located on Walworth Road, very close to Elephant and Castle tube and train stations. It has such a beautiful interior and very friendly staff. Hard to pick my fave item as it’s all so good. They have a limited edition Chinese New Year menu available until the 2nd of March so book asap!
Ping Pong. They have quite a few branches including at Southbank. Very cool interior, amazing cocktail list and good priced dim sum. My favourites were the crispy dumplings (both!) and duck bao. Also offering some Chinese New Year dim sum items this week.
Zing Zing. Takeaway place located on Walworth Road (it has many branches around London). They have an extensive menu including many vegan options. Their bacon special fried rice is something else! They regularly have themed items to celebrate all festivities.
New Golden Wok. Takeway place located in Peckham. They have quick service and the food was fresh. If you can handle your spice, their salt and pepper chicken is a must!
Happy Valley Chinese. Takeaway located on Southampton Way, Camberwell. This has been my go to for years as it’s prices are exceptional. Most dishes are under a fiver, the lunch menus are a bargain and delivery is free over £8! The sweet and sour chicken is one of my faves.
Hope you all enjoyed the festivities this week! And if anyone has experienced Chinese New Year in Asia before, I would love to hear about it!