LONDON — The Chinese community in Britain - the longest established in Europe - is building up towards big celebrations in the coming days for the Chinese New Year.
Sunday, February 10 marks the Chinese New Year, and in the heart of London’s Chinatown, the lion dancers are perfecting their moves as drummers practice their beats.
Up to 400,000 visitors are expected to descend on this corner of Soho in central London to enjoy the parade, fireworks and of course, the food. Organizers say London hosts the biggest Chinese New Year festival in Europe.
Festival director Lawrence Cheng says it will be a breathtaking blaze of color.
“We’ve got two different troupes from China, one from Chengdu, one from Guangdong," he said. "So they’re from different parts of China and the audience will have the opportunity, can experience different aspects of the Chinese arts.”
The parade of dancers will weave through the crowds, stopping at restaurants to wish the owners good luck.
2013 is the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar - or to be precise, this year it’s the water snake.
Suzanne Harper, a consultant in the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, says it marks an auspicious year.
“This happens once every 60 years," said Harper. "It favors women, very much so. It’s a year for going for your heart’s desire, that’s really important. It may be travel, it may be romantic, it may be a change of career, it may be a new baby. Whatever it is, the advice is ‘go for it’.”
Some of the young Chinese visitors to Chinatown have big expectations for the year ahead.
“To have good study, and have a healthy life for my family members,” said a visitor.
“Yeah, find a good job,” said another.
There will be festivities in Chinese communities across the world. So it’s time to get out and celebrate.
Goodbye to the Year of the Dragon, and welcome to the Year of the Snake.