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It's not just Valentine’s Day that we have to look forward to this February. There’s Chinese New Year too. Also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is an incredibly important holiday for millions of people across the world. So let’s dive into the details of this celebration and discover how you might be able to join in, in your local area, this year.
What is Chinese New Year?
This five-day festival marks the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. It’s a time of celebration and reflection – when people look back on the achievements of the past year and consider their hopes and dreams for the year to come. The exact dates of Chinese New Year depend on the cycle of the moon, but it typically begins at the end of January or early February. In 2022, the first day will be marked on 1st February and the last on the 6th – the next full moon. But there’ll be festivities and the chance for celebration right across February.
One of the main elements of the festival is the Chinese Zodiac. This tradition dates back over 2,000 years to the Qin Dynasty when animals were often worshipped and revered. There are 12 different zodiac signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
The signs alternate every year. 2022 marks the Year of the Tiger, a zodiac that’s associated with courage, confidence and competitiveness. Celebrations to usher in the Lunar New Year are usually held all across the UK by local Chinese communities, encompassing everything from feasting and gift giving, to parades and dancing.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in the North
Whether you’ve got Chinese heritage or not, the Lunar New Year is a wonderful event to mark down on your calendars. If you live in one of the following towns and cities across our network and want to mark Chinese New Year this February, why not dine on mouth-watering Chinese food or take part in a specific Chinese New Year event?
Did you know that Manchester is home to the second largest Chinatown in the UK outside of London? You’ll find the diverse neighbourhood right in the heart of the city, just steps from the Manchester Art Gallery.
At its heart stands a traditional Chinese archway (known as a paifang) built in China and shipped over to Manchester in 1986. The surrounding streets feature various historic buildings housing Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and karaoke bars. Why not have a wander around and pop into Wong Wong Bakery to sample some mouth-watering Chinese sweet treats?
If you call the city home and are planning on celebrating Chinese New Year in Manchester, consider putting the following activities on your February itinerary too:
Manchester may have the biggest Chinatown beyond the capital, but Liverpool’s is the oldest. Established in the 1890s, you’ll find the main stretch of this culture-packed neighbourhood on Nelson Street.
If you live locally, you can stroll beneath Liverpool’s impressive Chinese archway that sits just minutes away from Liverpool Cathedral. The golden landmark – that’s decorated with 200 ornate dragons – is over 15 metres tall and was brought over from Shanghai in 2000. In fact, it’s the largest Chinese gate outside of China.
Nelson Street itself is lined with various Chinese restaurants, plus specialty shops where you can buy all kinds of ingredients and treats. You can spend time browsing the stores and enjoy a meal out in one of the excellent restaurants – including the long-running Yuet Ben.
Live in Leeds and want to celebrate Chinese New Year this month? The northern city has its very own unofficial Chinatown where you can join in with the Spring Festival celebrations.
You’ll find the area in the north-east corner of the city centre home to a cluster of fantastic restaurants and retailers selling delicious Chinese cuisine and authentic wares. Why not visit the vibrant district to tuck into a tasty home-cooked Chinese meal at Wen’s Chinese Restaurant during February? Alternatively, pick up some groceries at one of the Asian supermarkets and try your hand at creating your own Chinese feast at home. And if you really fancy going all out with the celebrations, why not head to the city centre to enjoy some cocktails and delicious food at the Hong Kong-inspired Mans Market?
Newcastle has a small yet culture-packed Chinatown. It’s spread out along Stowell Street in historic Grainger Town and forms one of only five official Chinatowns in England.
What better way to mark Chinese New Year in your local area than with a meal out with friends or family? You’ll be spoilt for choice by brilliant restaurants in Newcastle, including the Peking-inspired King Neptune, fusion eatery Amaysia Restaurant and the contemporary Red Diner (which also has karaoke rooms if you fancy a sing-song after you dine).
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