Cities around the world this week have been decked out in lanterns and copious amounts of bright red as lion dancers, dragons and marching bands have taken to the streets. Street food stalls have popped up, tempting pedestrians with sizzling dumplings and sweet red bean pancakes. Chinese New Year celebrations are in full swing, and whether you’re in Beijing or Bangkok, there’s a good chance that festivities are taking over a neighbourhood near you.
With such vibrant festivities, it’s not surprising that Chinese New Year is celebrated with gusto all around the world. For more than a hundred years, Chinese diaspora have been passionately sharing their traditions with their local communities all over the globe, making it a major event on many international calendars. Some even say that the festivities outside of China rival those within the country!
Naturally, the biggest Chinese New Year celebration happens in Beijing. The Chinese capital has all the festival bells & whistles you’d expect, such as parades, firecrackers and street food stalls, but there’s a unique focus on family and historical tradition. Traditionally, people will prepare their household for the celebrations in the last days of the year with lots of decorating and cleaning, and then spend the first few days of the new year to visit their family, pray and honor their ancestors.
Singapore goes all out for Chinese New Year with the Chingay Parade, the largest street and float parade in Asia. Dancing dragons, lion walkers and stilt walkers wow the crowds as people party in the streets.
In Australia, Sydney’s Lunar New Year celebrations have become one of the biggest in the world. Sydney’s Chinatown fills with street stalls, performers and markets and Cockle Bay hosts the dragon boat races, which is one of the most popular parts of the city’s celebrations. Melbourne’s Southbank promenade and Docklands are lit up with hundreds of intricate, colourful lantern characters, markets pop up along the waterfront and a vibrant parade snakes its way through the city streets.
London has the largest Chinese New Year festival outside China, the festivities taking place in three major areas: Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue.
San Francisco has one of the oldest and largest festivals outside China, which is also the largest Asian cultural festival in North America. The elaborate parade is regarded as one of the top ten parades in the world in any category, snaking through the city in a blur of acrobats, dancers, firecrackers and a marching band. The icing on the cake is the famous 268 foot Golden Dragon, formed by more than 100 dancers!
New York hosts three Chinese New Year parades, kicking off with the Firecracker Ceremony in Chinatown. Next up is the Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing, Queens, which is home to the largest Chinese population in the city. The final parade is the biggest. Back in Manhattan, the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival wows crowds with marching bands, acrobats and dancers, enormous floats and giant lanterns.
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