As you can imagine, the streets of Chinatown and the West End become jam-packed with revellers during the Chinese New Year celebrations. To make the most of the weekend, be sure to plan your journey ahead of time using Transport for London’s Journey Plan to avoid congestion and to reach the festivities on time. Driving is an absolute no-no! Remember, you’ll be on your feet most of the day – apart from those blissful restaurant feasts – so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and to wrap up warm. And as it’s London, come prepared with an umbrella just in case it rains.
To fully immerse yourself into the joy of the celebrations, consider donning red clothing. Red is the representative colour of Chinese New Year, signifying good luck for the coming year. If you’re bringing along the little ones, let them carry a rat toy or you can paint their face with red colouring or a rat motif so they can thrive in the fun of the atmosphere. Haven’t got time to buy anything red or rat-related? Not to worry, there will be plenty of shops in Chinatown selling suitable gear – just don’t expect it to be a unique piece.
Strangers will often say ‘Happy New Year’ to you in Cantonese or Mandarin. Learn to respond in the same way to put a smile on their face. ‘Happy New Year’ in Cantonese is ‘San Nin Faai Lok’, pronounced ‘san knee fy lock’. In Mandarin, it’s ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le’, pronounced ‘sin nee-enn kwai ler’.
While the Chinese New Year celebrations are welcoming, exciting, and lively, as with any busy and significant event in London, be alert of pickpocketers. Keep valuables out of easy reach and out of sight, and always be aware of your surroundings.