Monday, 23 January 2012 8:47 AM
One of the world’s most colourful celebrations – Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) – kicks off on January 23rd and carries on until the 15th day of the first lunar month (Lantern Festival). This year’s celebrations will be particularly special as 2012 marks the Year of the Dragon – the most powerful and auspicious of all the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs.
Here is Travelbite.co.uk’s pick of the best Chinese New Year celebrations in cities across the globe:
Beijing, the capital of China, is the heart of the Chinese New Year festivities. Celebrations include Spring Festival carnivals, Peking Opera, acrobatics and tea culture displays, but none more famous than the Temple Fair. Originally a religious ritual that took place in temples during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), these days they offer entertainment, traditional arts and crafts, cuisine, singing and dancing and a buzzing atmosphere of festivity.
The Ditan Park Fair, Baiyunguan Temple Fair and the Changdian Temple Fair are some of the popular Temple Fairs in Beijing.
One of the most popular – and vibrant – Chinese New Year events is the The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade in Hong Kong. Radiating the theme of 'World City; World Party', the parade features illuminated floats accompanied by spectacular international performances, including everything from a Chinese Shaolin kung fu group to stilt walkers from the Netherlands! The festive, cheering crowds lining the parade route in Tsim Sha Tsui create a carnival-like atmosphere.
Singapore is ushering in the Year of the Dragon with the annual Chingay Parade, including the world’s first ever moving parade on a 360-metre stretch of water. Centred on the theme of ‘love, care and kindness everywhere’ viewers will be taken on a colourful celebration of love in all its guises.
In honour of the Dragon Year, a gripping all-dragon show will open the parade with an array of pyrotechnics splashing out against the night sky. The dramatic finale is no doubt the most highly anticipated segment of the parade with the entrance of three magnificent sailboats accompanied by a squad of dazzling performers and an extravaganza of glittering floats.
Taking place on the 3rd and 4th of February, Singapore promises a truly memorable celebration of the turn of the Chinese New Year.
San Francisco’s Chinese New Year festivities are known to be the largest Asian celebrations outside of Asia.
The California Gold Rush of the mid 19th Century ensured immigration to the city (a sleepy little village known as Yerba Buena), bringing with them their New Year traditions. Starting officially in 1860, the Chinese combined their customs with the American tradition of parades to create one of the best Chinese New Year celebrations in the world.
From the newly-crowned Miss Chinatown USA to the spectacular 250-metre-long Golden Dragon (it takes a team of over 100 men and women from the martial arts group, White Crane, to carry this dragon through the streets!), San Francisco is the place to be to bring in the Year of the Dragon.
Trafalgar Square is welcoming in the year of the dragon with traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances as well as modern music, parades and a special fireworks display. Chinatown will also be specially decorated, with plenty of Chinese food on offer.
Although Chinese New Year actually takes place on Monday 23rd January 2012, the London parade and festival in Trafalgar Square happens a little later on Sunday January 29th, with more events taking place throughout London well into February.
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