Looking to celebrate Chinese New Year in London? An explosion of colour, culture, and food… the capital sure knows how to party it up for the Lunar New Year.
In case you weren’t aware, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. But what does that mean exactly?
Well, according to ancient rituals, it’s all about prosperity, hope, and calm – and while Chinese New Year falls on January 22nd this year, many celebrations will actually run from January 21st until February 4th, so you’ve got plenty of time to get involved.
Ready? Here’s our guide to the best London Chinese New Year celebrations…
Things to do this Chinese New Year in London
Celebrate in Chinatown
There’s no better place to celebrate the Chinese New Year in London than in Chinatown itself. Toothsome Asian street food, brilliant shopping, and a magical dragon or two are guaranteed.
The West End comes alive with signs of ‘Gong hei fat choy’, or Happy New Year in Cantonese, which are draped and added to the already colourful streets.
It’s a busy spot, for sure. But it’s well worth making your way through the hordes of people to catch a glimpse of the most authentic Chinese New Year celebrations in London. And for taking the obligatory picture of the gate for the ‘Gram, of course.
Live it up at the Pan Pacific
Chinese New Year, like Christmas, has a lot to do with food. It’s a time of year to feast on enough delicious stuff to put you in a mild coma. Sound familiar?
In that honour, the Pan Pacific Hotel is throwing a menu of festive feasting food. Expect plenty of fish (the Chinese word for fish sounds similar to their word for surplus), longevity noodles (these long noodles represent a long life) and lobster, because, well, lobster.
The menus will be available at their in-house restaurant Straights Kitchen and they’ll also be doing a special afternoon tea at their bar, The Orchid Lounge.
Eat a Special Trio of Buns at Bunhouse
Throughout the Chinese New Year, the folk over at Bun House have created a delightful set of unique buns to celebrate the lunar new year.
They come as a trio in the traditional steamed bun basket. Our favourite is a very cute-looking rabbit-shaped bun with a centre of white rabbit sweets – an iconic sweet popular in Hong Kong and China.
The Fat Choi, another bun in the basket, oozes with black sesame. And their Dai Gut marries choccy and orange in a bun filling that sounds right up our street. Last but not least they’ll also be serving a traditional Nin Gou – a dessert of coconut and brown sugar. Delicious.
Celebrate in the Tent at the End of the Universe
That’s not an obscure bit of Chinese New Year lore, The Tent (At the end of the Universe) is an actual restaurant.
They’re pretty new and pretty hip. Originally starting life as a middle eastern restaurant with a no-fee members club policy, The Tent decided to throw its doors (tent flaps?) open to all.
For Chinese New Year, you’ll be able to drop in and choose from a menu of signature Chinese small plates that will run from the 24th to the 28th of January. There’ll also be a big party on Sunday the 22nd, complete with DJs, and that menu of Chinese food coming in all-you-can-eat style.
Indulge in Fine Dining at Park Chinois
Book yourself a table at Mayfair’s Park Chinois from January 19th for a Chinese fine dining experience to remember. Top chefs at this luxe spot have crafted a stellar Chinese New Year menu with eight new dishes to help welcome the Year of the Rabbit.
It’s safe to say that the dishes impress. They’re ideally meant to be shared and include the likes of stir-fried wagyu beef, Cantonese roast duck, Hunan-style scallops, and a sumptuous menu of dim sum to boot.
Also, expect traditional lion dancing and Chinese drumming to make an appearance throughout the evening.
Scoff Adorable Treats at Bao
They’ll also be putting on their regular (and this year cute as hell) new year’s buns. This year they’ll be shaped like rabbits in line with the zodiac.
If you can’t get enough of that, why not buy the t-shirt. No kidding. They’re also teaming up with Carhart to bring out some limited-edition merch. Maybe it’s time to update your drip. This is the year of prosperity after all.
Eat more Bountiful Feasts at Mi Mi Mei Fair
We did say Chinese New Year is all about feasting, didn’t we?
Well, as you can see, we’re not lying. And it looks like Mi Mi Mei Fair knows it. They’ve gone and laid on a special menu of CNY goodies that will no doubt be as delicious and extravagant as their usual Mei fair.
It begins with a ‘basket of wealth’. That’s a trio of dim sum, and other treats like seared oysters and caviar (that also happens to be how we think of prosperity), vegetable and truffle soong and a crispy pork and pomelo dish that has been living rent-free in our minds since we heard about it.
They’ll also be decking out their already very classy establishment with arrangements of beautiful bouquets of flowers. Sounds divine.
Keep it Iconic at Din Tai Fung
Ask most people to name a famous Chinese restaurant in London and, if they’re not saying Hakkasan, they’re saying Din Tai Fung. The brand shot out of Taipei clutching a Michelin star for their now world-famous xiao long bao.
They’ve now got three restaurants in London, and for Chinese New Year 2023 they’re laying on a special tasting menu at all of them. It comes with a price tag of £60 per head and is basically a run-through of all the things that people love Din Tai Fung for, the aforementioned xiao long bao included.
You’ll also get to try their salted egg yolk custard lava buns, which are frankly, divine.
Chinese New Year 2023: Practical Tips and Map
Why is the Chinese New Year Different?
While the vast majority of the West uses the Gregorian calendar to mark a new year, the Chinese New Year coincides with the start of the Lunar calendar which occurs when there is a new moon.
What are the 12 Zodiac Animals for Chinese New Year?
The 12 zodiac animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Each animal has special attributes that are meant to dominate their year – luckily, this year is prosperity, hope, and calm. Phew.