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Chinese New Year in the United Kingdom

Chinese communities across the United Kingdom (UK) celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. People organize large scale community and public celebrations. These festivities may last for up to two weeks.

Is Chinese New Year a Public Holiday?

Chinese New Year is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Studio shot of red envelope with money and chinese lunar new year decoration
Chinese New Year decorations, including red envelopes for money.
Chinese New Year decorations, including red envelopes for money.
©iStockphoto.com/Liang Zhang

What Do People Do?

Chinese communities across the UK hold New Year parades and public celebrations close to the first day of the Chinese year. These often include:

  • Lion dances in city centers and shopping malls.
  • Performances of traditional and contemporary Chinese dance and music.
  • Communal meals and tasting sessions of traditional Chinese and Chinese inspired foods.
  • Short courses and lectures on Chinese history, language and culture.
  • Exhibitions of art and crafts created by artists from China or of Chinese decent.
  • Displays of lanterns and fireworks.

Most events are open to the general public and are generally friendly and welcoming for people of all backgrounds to learn more about the Chinese culture. Large public celebrations are held in central London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Sheffield.

Families, community centers and student associations often also hold private celebrations. These may be small parties at home or larger events for hundreds or thousands of people. Special dishes representing luck and happiness in the Chinese New Year are often served.

Public Life

Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in the UK. Parades and large scale public celebrations may cause some local disruption to traffic, particularly in city centers and Chinatown areas. Some Chinese shops and other businesses may keep different hours during the Chinese New Year period.


The Chinese New Year festival has been celebrated for thousands of years. It is also called the Spring festival as it falls between the December solstice and the March equinox and China is in the Northern hemisphere. The Chinese New Year traditionally marks the start of a new cycle of sowing and other farming activities in China. More information on the background to this festival is given in our general article on the Chinese New Year.


Symbols of Chinese New Year include red lanterns with gold characters, red envelopes containing gifts of money, fireworks, lion dance displays and special types and displays of food. They types of food that people eat during the festival vary according to the region in China from which they or their ancestors came.

Many people in the Chinese community make a special effort to wear red clothes. They often believe that red represents fire and can scare evil spirits away. Other symbols of Chinese New Year include appropriate elements and animals from the cycle of names of years in the Chinese calendar.

About Chinese New Year in other countries

Read more about Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010SunFeb 14Chinese New YearObservance 
2011ThuFeb 3Chinese New YearObservance 
2012MonJan 23Chinese New YearObservance 
2013SunFeb 10Chinese New YearObservance 
2014FriJan 31Chinese New YearObservance 
2015ThuFeb 19Chinese New YearObservance 
2016MonFeb 8Chinese New YearObservance 
2017SatJan 28Chinese New YearObservance 
2018FriFeb 16Chinese New YearObservance 
2019TueFeb 5Chinese New YearObservance 
2020SatJan 25Chinese New YearObservance 

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