Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant festivals of the year. Traditionally marking the start of the new lunar year, it’s a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate their rich culture with colourful dance shows and sparkling firework displays. Each year is characterised by one of the 12 animals of the zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey and will be celebrated on Monday 8th February.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Europe
If you happen to have a city break to Europe planned before or during Chinese New Year, it’s worth seeking out the city’s Chinatown or Chinese community to discover plenty of ways to celebrate: whether it’s taking a Chinese calligraphy class, discovering delicious Chinese delicacies or attending one of the famous Chinatown parades.
Here are my top 5 Chinatowns in Europe to spend the New Year or visit later in 2016:
Amsterdam, Holland (Saturday 6th February)
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Home to a Buddhist temple and Europe’s first floating Chinese restaurant – The Sea Palace – Amsterdam in Holland is a truly unique place to spend Chinese New Year. Enjoy traditional lion and dragon dances as well as firework displays. Department store, De Bijenkorf, will also be hosting calligraphy classes, tea ceremonies and musical performances.
Brussels, Belgium (Saturday 6th February)
Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the very first Chinese New Year parade in Brussels! The event starts at the Grand Place featuring dragon and lion dances, folk dancing, Peking opera and fusion music, performed by troupes all the way from Beijing and Shanghai. A tourist favourite – the Manneken Pis statue, will also be dressed in traditional Chinese garments to mark the occasion.
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Liverpool, UK (Sunday 7th February)
If you’re interested in history this is the one for you. Established in the 1930s, Liverpool is home to the oldest of Europe’s Chinatowns. Celebrations always start around the impressive ceremonial archway – constructed in 1999 with help from specially selected craftsmen from their twin city, Shanghai. There’ll be a family fun fair, a Chinese market selling delicious food and souvenirs, a firecracker display, and a dragon, unicorn and lion parade.
Rome, Italy (Tuesday 9th February)
Twinned with the city of Beijing, there is always plenty to see in Italy‘s capital city around Chinese New Year. Starting at the Via dei Fori Imperiali, there are Kung Fu artists, dragon parades and lion dances. After a full day of celebrations, the event rounds off with an impressive firework display from the Celio hill. Get yourself a spot in front of the Colosseum for a truly spectacular view.
Paris, France (Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th February)
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With the largest of Europe’s Chinatowns, Chinese New Year is one of the Paris’ most popular events. It all starts with a bustling parade of dancers, drummers and colourful dragons along the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. There’ll also be plenty of tasty Chinese delicacies on offer, beautiful decorations galore and multiple firecracker displays over the weekend in France.