Today, people from all of the world will be celebrating Chinese New Year. For the Chinese it’s a time to focus on priorities; renewing old ties, making amends and reconciliation. They traditionally buy and wear new clothes, give gifts, and clean their houses for the start of the new zodiac year. For many of us, it will simply be a stunning spectacle of colour, taste and sound. You don’t need to be in China to experience Chinese New Year; in 2015 five hundred thousand people were recorded celebrating in London’s Trafalgar Square.
In London this year the parade starts at Trafalgar Square and will make its winding way through the streets of Chinatown. Expect a plethora of Chinese food stalls, craft and traditional dancing. Those with children should head to Charing Cross Road for an array of performances, martial arts displays and workshops.Those without children and in need of a warming spirit could make the most of Baijui Coctail Week: many Soho bars and restaurants will be serving up the Chinese national drink: try Bo Drake, Opium in Chinatown, Bo Drake in Soho and the dim-sum chain Ping Pong.
For any New Yorker’s reading, head to Mott St from Canal St for the start of the parade and follow it as it weaves its way towards Sara Roosevelt Park. Thousands of firecrackers will be set off at 11am as part of the Better Chinatown Society’s celebrations, a practice that is seen to ward of evil spirits (some may think it especially topical at this time) and give thanks for the previous lunar year. At Brookfield Place you’ll find a range of performances from energetic dance and musical pieces, to displays of Chinese customs such as a martial arts and theatre. There will be a day long parade from Madison Street to Madison Avenue with plenty of lion dancers, Chinese face painting and musical performances. And it wouldn’t be a celebration of all things Chinese without a pit-stop for some authentic dumplings. Carma Asian Tapas in the West Village will be serving 15 dollar dumplings and other dim sum 11am to 10pm on Saturday 28th.
Fresh from their Australia Day parties on Thursday 26th January, revelers in Sydney will also be celebrating the Year of the Rooster this weekend. A series of twelve giant lanterns will take centre stage at Sydney Opera House and be displayed around Circular Quay. There will be a huge focus on food and drink in Sydney this Chinese New Year and those in the know recommend feasting as the number one priority. The Lunar Markets in Pyrmont will be serving vast amounts of Chinese street food. Alternatively for a Chinese inspired cocktail head to Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub in Martin Place and to Taylor’s pop-up bar. Experience infamous Peking duck fries at Bao Stop and if you still have room (or small children to placate) try out Messina’s Lunar New Year ice cream creations.
And now to where it all began: Beijing, where the celebrations will meet their apex. It has been asserted that no single hour in any other country sees as many tons of fireworks lighted as in China around the midnight beginning Chinese New Year. As the producer of 90% of the world’s fireworks, the Chinese really know how to light up a sky. A traditional Chinese New Year will usually involve a grand Chinese New Year’s Eve meal with family and then visits to the historic temple ceremonies. The temple fairs reproduce the traditional customs of Beijing, such as folk skills and flower shows. Entertainment takes the form of music, dance, theater, acrobatics, art and crafts. Tourists can enjoy the reenactment of the ceremonies such as the worship to Earth and Heaven, folk performances such as dragon and lion dances, and enjoy traditional Chinese New Year delicacies. While many nightlife spots have been built up and modernized, one area that has maintained its traditional charm is Houhai Lake, a perfect spot for a Chinese New Year nightcap. Sanlitun, Beijing’s most famous bar district will also be vibrant over the weekend, recommendations include The Local for cocktails and Great Leap Brewing for craft beers.
Chinese New Year is a festival for 1/5 of the worlds population and these are just four of the cities that will be celebrating over the weekend. So Xinnian Kuaile from The Sybarite and roll on 2018’s Year of the Dog.