LONDON CELEBRATES CHINESE NEW YEAR OF THE RABBIT
By Vincent Lyn
Here with left to right Ciro Orsini (International Restrauteur), Abbas Alizada (Afghan Bruce Lee), Sifu Samuel Kwok (International Wing Chun Martial Arts Association)
London welcomes the 'spectacular return' of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia.
Some ten thousand people gathered in central London to enjoy the "spectacular return" of London's Chinese and Lunar New Year celebrations.
The biggest of their kind outside of Asia, London's New Year festivals are the first such celebrations to take place in the UK capital since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chinese lions, dragons and dancers welcomed the Year of the Rabbit by parading around the city's Chinatown, with performers then taking to the stage in front of the capital's National Gallery.
In nearby streets around the central West End area - the traditional heart of London' Chinese community – martial artists and musicians put on shows and cultural activities.
The annual festivals also included a parade of London red buses filled with revelers, many of them visiting from China.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was among the revelers, describing the festivals as being "one of the highlights of my year."
"I'm delighted that for the first time since the pandemic, we are able to gather together in Trafalgar Square for the full scale, spectacular return of London's Chinese and Lunar New Year celebrations," said the mayor.
He went on to thank London's Chinese community for "the enormous contribution" it made to the city.
"You enrich our society, economy and culture, from your influence on our arts scene and creative industries to the businesses you run, you are a shining example of London at its best," he said.
"I wish you health, happiness and prosperity for the year ahead."
The festivals in London are the biggest of their kind outside of Asia, with the capital having celebrated the occasion for around 50 years.
It's also the first time in years that people living in China will get a chance to take part in the celebrations, after Beijing lifted travel restrictions related to COVID-19 earlier this month.
The festivals started officially on January 22, and will run until February 5.
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