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Lunar New Year in the United Kingdom

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

Is Lunar New Year a Public Holiday?

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

Dragon dance and parade for the Lunar New Year.

©iStockphoto.com/lovemax

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 Lunar New Year are often served.

Public Life

Lunar 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 Lunar New Year period.

Background

The Lunar 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 Lunar 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 Lunar New Year.

Symbols

Symbols of Lunar 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 Lunar New Year include appropriate elements and animals from the cycle of names of years in the Chinese calendar.

About Lunar New Year in Other Countries

Read more about Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2017SatJan 28Lunar New YearObservance
2018FriFeb 16Lunar New YearObservance
2019TueFeb 5Lunar New YearObservance
2020SatJan 25Lunar New YearObservance
2021FriFeb 12Lunar New YearObservance
2022TueFeb 1Lunar New YearObservance
2023SunJan 22Lunar New YearObservance
2024SatFeb 10Lunar New YearObservance
2025WedJan 29Lunar New YearObservance
2026TueFeb 17Lunar New YearObservance
2027SatFeb 6Lunar New YearObservance

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.