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Welcome to the Year of the Rooster! Are you China Ready?

London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are set to be the biggest in the world outside Asia. The Chinese New Year 2017 festivities kick off this Saturday, 28th January. For more information on Pilot PR’s China-Ready programme, please email us at info@pilot-pr.com.

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Chinese New Year is also referred to as The Spring Festival in China and is the most important traditional festival and biggest celebration for families in the year. In Mainland China, the occasion is marked with a week’s public holiday so that workers can return to their hometown to see their families, in a similar way that we celebrate Christmas here in the UK.


2017 is the Year of Rooster according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac cycle. This means different things to different people depending on what year you are born. It is counter-intuitive perhaps but generally it is not the best year for those who have the same Chinese zodiac sign of the year.


Here is some further information and fun facts about Chinese New Year which may be of benefit if you are expecting any Chinese guests, or indeed looking to attract more Chinese visitors to your business in the UK. Christmas 2016 saw an unprecedented number of Chinese visitors to London and the plunge in the pound after the Referendum vote and the introduction of a simpler visa system have helped send flight bookings from China soaring. This was recently reported in The Evening Standard and the number of Chinese booking flights is up 81 per cent compared with January 2016. Are you China-Ready?


  • Happy Chinese New Year: 新年快乐 "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (This is in Mandarin which is used by Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese) or 新年快樂 "Sun Nin Faai Lok" (This is in Cantonese which is used by Hong Kong Chinese)

  • Or another even more common CNY greeting - May you have a prosperous New Year! 恭喜发财 “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (Mandarin) or 恭喜發財 "Kung Hei Fat Choy” (Cantonese)

  • Red is the main colour of the festival, as it is believed to be an auspicious colour – bringing good fortune. So it’s common to see decorations in red as well as people dressed up in red. Most of the decorating and preparations are done just before or on Chinese New Year's Eve to prepare for the start of CNY.

  • Setting off fireworks is common during the Spring Festival season all over China and so don’t be surprised if Chinese guests will want to see the same over here.

  • The New Year's Eve dinner (ie. Friday, 27th Jan this year) is called "reunion dinner", and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around round tables to enjoy good food and time together. You may want to check out which Chinese restaurants to recommend in your area.

  • Fish is a must for the reunion dinner as Chinese believe having fish on the last dinner of the year implies there is a surplus of money at the end of the year (ie. 年年有餘) because the Chinese pronunciation for ‘fish’ and ‘surplus’ is similar. Other Chinese New Year foods include dumplings, spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes, and sweet rice balls.

  • The giving of red packets / red envelopes is called “紅包Hongbao" (Mandarin) / “利是Laisi” (Cantonese) and is a custom at Chinese New Year. These contain money (always bank notes and no coins) and are given to children and (retired) seniors by married adults. Sometimes, Chinese people will give red packets to staff for their loyal service in a restaurant or hotel. It is totally fine to receive a red packet and of course say thank you, don’t feel weird about this.


If you happen to be in London, here are some ideas as to how you can get involved:


  • London's Chinese New Year Parade on 29th Jan 2017: a riotous, colourful celebration of Chinese music, dance and acrobatics. It is expected to start at 10am and take a route along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue before reaching Chinatown. In previous years, an official opening ceremony has taken place at midday in Trafalgar Square.

  • From 27th to 29th January, the Coca-Cola London Eye will host a range of special events to mark the occasion. Visible throughout the city will be the landmark’s themed light show, a specially designed red and gold lightshow occuring every hour from 4pm during the weekend. There will also be entertainment in the immediate area with Dragon dancers and characters from Kung Fu Panda.

  • From 19th January to 26th February, Chiswick’s Magical Lantern Festival is a new annual event timed to coincide with Chinese New Year. Themed after ‘Explore the Silk Road’, the festival features a mass of life-sized and oversized lantern scenes that collectively represent this age-old trade route. Traversing the display, visitors will be transported from the Houses of Parliament to representations of landmarks and landscapes stretching from mainland Europe to Arabia and onwards to ancient China. There will also be a fun fair and ice rink on site, as well as international street food on offer.


The Chinese New Year’s festivities end two weeks later on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month on what is known as the Lantern Festival. In 2017, it falls on 11th February. This is the reason why you see a lot of red lantern decorations in China Town and Chinese restaurants, as they are both appropriate for CNY and the upcoming Lantern Festival.


I wish you a prosperous Year of the Rooster! 新年快樂, 恭喜發財!


For further information of Chinese New Year activities in London, please go to VisitLondon’s website.


For more information on Pilot PR’s China-Ready programme, please email us at info@pilot-pr.com. Our bespoke “China Ready” PR programme is specifically designed for luxury lifestyle and travel brands, who are looking to launch, expand their customer base, as well as increase media exposure to attract audiences from key Chinese-speaking markets including Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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