London gears up for Chinese New Year celebrations

Culture vultures staying in luxury London hotels early next year may be interested in taking in the exotic celebrations of the Chinese New Year on January 29th.

The capital's large and vibrant Chinese community takes to the streets in order to host an array of celebrations along the Strand, Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue and other locations ideal for those in central London hotels.

One of the leading and most popular events is the dances and performances in Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square.

The London Chinese New Year celebrations are said to be the biggest outside of China, with festivities set to start at 10:00 GMT with a parade that passes around the West End.

"2012 is a year with plenty to celebrate," explained organisers.

"From the London 2012 Olympic Games to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Londoners are preparing for a fantastic year of parties, parades and events across the capital."

The group added: "The Chinese New Year of the Dragon will be kicking off a year of celebrations to remember on 29th January 2012, and next year the festivities are set to be bigger and better than ever before!"

An opening ceremony will take place at midday in Trafalgar Square with speeches from special guests including mayor Boris Johnson and the Chinese ambassador to the city.

Afterwards, dragon dancing, music and performances on the Trafalgar Square stage are set to entertain audiences.

Alongside this, a second stage in Shaftesbury Avenue will host performances by local group and schools, while Chinatown plays host to a range of stalls selling traditional items and produce.

This coming New Year in the Chinese calendar is represented by the sign of the dragon.

"Often seen as perhaps the most important sign in the Zodiac, Chinese tradition dictates that those born in Dragon years tend to be brave, innovative and highly driven often making it to the top of their profession," adds the group.

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