The Chinese New Year starts today, bringing a weekend of lantern parades, feasts and parties to mark the year of the "horned animal" - sited by some as a goat and by others as a sheep or ram (in China festivities last for 15 days until the day of the lantern festival which falls on the 5th March this year).

Chinese New Year

London hosts the largest Chinese New Year festivities, although they only last for the weekened (this weekend!).  The main festivities take place in Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue.  Highlights include a colourful parade in the square on the Sunday 22nd February from 10am.

You will have to book your restaurants and bars around the Chinatown area early.  One of our favourites is Dumplings Legend on Gerrard Street.

For those of you that don't want to have to make the journey into Central London, The Royal China Group restaurant chain hosts free ‘lion dances’, the traditional good luck performance that wends its way through the capital’s streets. Branches and dates for the shows are: Baker Street on 20 and 25 February; Queensway on 23 February; Canary Wharf on 24 February; Harrow on the Hill on 27 February and Fulham on 28 February. Prebooking is suggested, shows are all at 7.30pm.

"Xin Nian Kuai Le" (Happy New Year in Mandarin) or "San Nin Fai Lok" (in Cantonese).