More than half a million people gathered in the heart of London on Sunday 11 February to herald the Year of the Dragon. This was the biggest Lunar Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia.
Locals and tourists alike were treated to the legendary parade of traditional lion-dancers and performers clad in spectacular red and gold outfits on handcrafted floats. Red and gold are considered auspicious colours in Chinese culture.
The vibrant artistry on display highlighted the dedication and efforts of many individuals in creating a truly magnificent celebration to mark the most important event of the year for many Chinese and Asian communities. Hundreds of performers each played an important role in the grand parade including classical Chinese musicians, martial artists, members of Beijing Opera company and Puning Yingge dancers. China’s rich and diverse history was celebrated through art in a spectacular fashion through the streets of Chinatown and the West End.
A large number of street food stalls offered delicious authentic bites to eat from many different Chinese and Asian cuisines from familiar favourites to exciting new dishes. There was plenty of shopping to be done with many stalls selling traditional arts, crafts and toys, including dragons of course. The day was filled with family-friendly activities including acrobatic performances and electrical firecracker displays.
Public figures amongst the revellers included Mayor of London Mr Sadiq Khan, and the Chinese Ambassador to the UK Mr Zheng Zeguang, and the leaders of the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA), Mr Deng Zhuting and Mr Peter Yick Kuen Lam. They are the Chairman and President of LCCA respectively.
LCCA is the well-established official organiser of the London Chinese New Year Festival. They emphasised the importance of unity and cultural exchange. “It is very important for us. Chinese New Year is just like Christmas, a very special event for the Chinese community having opportunities to achieve interact cultural exchange. The year of the Dragon is one of the most powerful and auspicious years in the Chinese Zodiac, symbolising strength, fortune, and success. We would like to share our joyfulness with everyone.”
Mayor of London, Mr. Khan, hailed the contribution of Londoners of Chinese origin and warned against those create divisions and conflict in our multicultural city. In a speech to the revellers in Trafalgar Square, he said: “Thank you for contributing to our city culturally, economically, and socially. There are some people who try to divide our communities. We can’t let them succeed. We have got to show them that our diversity is a strength. This Year of the Dragon is about good prosperity, good fortune and good luck!”