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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.

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

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
SunFeb 142010Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuFeb 32011Chinese New YearObservance 
MonJan 232012Chinese New YearObservance 
SunFeb 102013Chinese New YearObservance 
FriJan 312014Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuFeb 192015Chinese New YearObservance 
MonFeb 82016Chinese New YearObservance 
SatJan 282017Chinese New YearObservance 
FriFeb 162018Chinese New YearObservance 
TueFeb 52019Chinese New YearObservance 
SatJan 252020Chinese New YearObservance 

Quick Facts

Chinese New Year in the United Kingdom (UK) marks the start of the New Year in the Chinese calendar.

Chinese New Year 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chinese New Year 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018


Name in other languages

Chinese New YearEnglish
Kinesisk nyttårNorwegian

Alternative name

Spring Festival

List of dates for other years

Other holidays in January 2018 in the United Kingdom

World Holiday on January 28, 2018

Fun Holiday on January 28, 2018

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