History and Meaning
Here at your favourite luxury hostel in London, we love to celebrate the different cultures our city has to offer. Starting on February 19 is the Chinese New Year, and many of the celebratory events take place on February 22. Traditionally there is a Chinese zodiac animal sign attached to each year based on a cycle of 12 years. This year there has been a bit of confusion because 2015 is being referred to as the year of the goat and the year of the sheep. However, each term is technically correct.
The ambiguity of this year’s animal comes from the translation of ‘yang,’ which refers to any caprinae subfamily. In some languages, ‘yang’ translates to sheep, and it others it translates to goat, leading to the confusion. While either term is correct, many Chinese zodiac experts believe that it is the year of the goat. For people born in 2015 as well as those born in 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 and 2003, the Chinese Zodiac decrees them to be well mannered, dependable, kind-hearted and wise.
London has the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside of China, and the best places to experience the culture of the Chinese New Year are Trafalgar Square and Chinatown. Starting at 10am from Trafalgar Square is a parade that will lead down to Chinatown, where there will be craft and food stalls and a lion dance snaking its way through the area. You can also follow tradition and purchase something red from one of the craft stalls or shops for good luck. Also in Chinatown, on Shaftesbury Ave., you can find local performers and up-and-coming talent.
More entertainment remains in Trafalgar Square, with its celebrations starting at 12pm. There will be stage performances from troupes from China showing off their acrobatic and dance expertise, and there will also be a lion dance.
All of the festivities for the Chinese New Year are sure to lead up to an appetite, and what better time to continue celebrating London’s Chinese culture than with an authentic Chinese meal!
One of the most notable restaurants in Chinatown is Bar Shu, known for its Sichuan food with its fiery kick. Those with a more mild preference don’t need to shy away, however, because the chefs at Bar Shu are experts at combining spices so there can be a more subtle flavour. Open 12pm – 11pm, 28 Frith Street, 020 7287 8822, ££££
Another staple of Chinatown dining is Mr. Kong’s, which has been serving some of the best Chinese food for over 25 years. With a large menu that’s sure to please all kinds of tastes, Mr. Kong’s is one of the best places for an authentic and affordable Chinese meal. Open Sunday 12-1.45, 21 Lisle Street, 020 7437 7341, ££££
Known as one of the finest Chinese eateries in London, Yauatcha is ready to celebrate the year of the sheep with its collaboration with The Campaign for Wool. As part of its collaboration, Yauatcha is serving specially made macarons and petits gateaux and putting up a pop art window display and gallery. They are also holding a social media campaign with the chance to win one of eight prizes. Open Sunday 12 – 10.30pm, 15-17 Broadwick Street, 020 7494 8888, ££££
If you feel like continuing your celebrations well into the night, Chinatown is home to some of London’s coolest speakeasies.
Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour
With its jade door, Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour hides some of the best cocktails and dim sum in Chinatown from the casual passerby. Three floors make up Opium in The Academy, The Apothecary Bar and The Tea Parlour, with each part showcasing a different specialty. Open Sunday 5pm – Midnight, 15-16 Gerrard Street, 020 7734 7276, ££££
The Experimental Cocktail Club
While technically French-owned, the Experimental Cocktail Club makes itself one of Chinatown’s chicest speakeasies with its hidden black door with a touch of red paint and its Chinese-influenced cocktails. They also have an excellent selection of vintage spirits and great experimental cocktails. Open Sunday 6pm – Midnight, 13A Gerrard Street, 020 7434 3559, ££££
So if you’re wanting to watch a traditional lion dance or discover authentic Chinese food this new year, your favourite London boutique hostel has you covered. Feel free to contact us if you need any more recommendations or have a recommendation or two of your own!