As the most important festival in the Chinese calendar it’s no surprise that Chinese New Year goes off with a bang – quite literally. But it’s not all about the vast firework displays; there are dances by brightly decorated dragons, operatic performances in traditional Chinese dress, awesome martial arts displays and, of course, the delectable dim sum that throws in an almost unbeatable culinary aspect that, all-in-all, create a festival that’s a true assault on the senses.

Want to get in on the action this Chinese New Year? Well here are the top 10 spots around the world to celebrate the start of the Year of the Goat.

1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Quite possibly the best place to see in Chinese New Year, celebrations in Hong Kong are a mammoth affair that lasts for three whole days. Festivities kick off on Thursday 19th February, New Years Day, with a huge parade around Tsim Sha Tsui, complete with brightly coloured floats, music and some of Hong Kong’s finest entertainers doing what they do best in a street party to rival all others.

Dragon Dance, Chinese New Year, Hong Kong

Day two brings the epic fireworks display over Victoria Harbour. From 8pm, the amazing Hong Kong skyline will come ablaze with one of the biggest and best choreographed firework displays you’re likely to see anywhere, exploding in tandem with the daily Symphony of Lights show, to bring you a display of sound and colour you’re not likely to forget in a hurry.

Finally on the third day, Saturday 21st February, festivities are brought to a close with the horse races at the massive Sha Tin Racecourse. There’s a grand opening show that features a whole cavalcade of traditional Chinese pageantry, before getting down to the nitty gritty of the thunder of hooves and the gambling of all the moneys.

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Celebrations take place from Thursday 19th February – Sunday 22nd February

2. Beijing, China

Well, Beijing is the capital, so you can’t really expect much less than something bordering the best from China’s premier city. After the traditional family meal at home on the first night the party really starts with huge events across the city.

If you’re looking for something energetic, check out the Longtan Fair, a massive sporting event with crowd participation that includes an undeniably cool demonstration of exactly why the world knows that Chinese martial arts are most awesome. There’s also the International Carnival, with international bands, dance troupes and to-die-for cuisine (a favourite with expats and tourists), along with countless smaller parties held in bars and restaurants across this vast metropolis.

Temples, Hong Kong

Of course, if what you want is some cultural tradition, check out one of the Beijing Temple Fairs. Expect all manner of classic Chinese entertainment, such as lion and dragon dances, festival food, Chinese opera and lots of traditional dress. Oh yeah, and there’ll be martial arts here too. You can’t go wrong if there are martial arts going on, right?

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Celebrations take place from Wednesday 18th February – 19th February

3. London Chinatown, UK

It may be the other side of the world, but London sure does know how to rock Chinese New Year in style. As one of the well known and best established Chinatowns in the world, celebrations really go down with a bang, and are incredibly popular with Londoners and visitors alike. Taking place the Sunday after Chinese New Year, all the roads around the main Chinatown are closed off to vehicles during the day to make room for stages that play host to a whole range of traditional Chinese art forms, including dance, singing and (of course) martial arts.

London Chinese New Year Lanterns

Beware, the streets around Chinatown are heaving during the celebrations. Police are likely to enforce a one way system, which can make getting around take a little longer than one would hope. The restaurants are equally packed too, so if you want a little dim sum to set you up for the early evening fireworks, you better get in early (most places don’t accept bookings on this day) – make sure you wash it all down with jasmine tea and a few glorious bottles of Tsingtao beer.

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Celebrations take place Sunday 22nd February

4. San Francisco Chinatown, USA

Billed as the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, it is the oldest Chinatown in North America and claims to be (along with New York) home to the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. So is it any surprise that San Francisco is one of best places on the planet to be for Chinese New Year?

San Francisco Chinatown Chinese New Year

There will be a whole host of events taking place across Chinatown throughout the month, but the main attraction is the gargantuan Chinese New Year parade on Saturday 7th March. This year it promises to include over 100 brightly coloured floats and entries, lit and decorated by traditional lanterns, flags and accompanied by Chinese music – with the highlight being a massive 28 foot Golden Dragon that actually walks through the streets.
Each year the parade is viewed by over 3 million spectators, who also fill the restaurants and market stalls all around San Fran’s Chinatown to chow down arguably the world’s greatest cuisine.

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Celebrations take on Thursday 19th February

5. Shanghai, China

Billed ‘The Paris of the East’, Shanghai is well known for its mixed culture, having been what one might call an ‘international city’ for over a century. This mix is heavily evident in the variety of entertainment on offer during this week long shindig. It all kicks off with a mass New Year countdown in the squares across the city and on the banks of the Huangpu River. This is all followed by some epic live concert performances in the theatres, halls and venues around the city, representing a whole slew of genres – from Chinese folk and classical, to rock and jazz.

Burning Incense, Hong Kong

Then, of course, there’s the traditional aspect that takes place in the temples throughout the city, with prayers, bell ringing and the burning of incense to bring luck in the coming year. Check out the City God Temple, Longhua Temple and Jing’an Temple if you want to witness some proper grandeur.

Oh, and don’t dare forget the food, because there’ll be a lot of it, and it’ll all be good. Whether you want to hit up the street food or huddle in a restaurant somewhere, the eats will keep coming and it’ll be some of the best you’ve ever had.

Find out more.

Celebrations take place from Thursday 19th February – Wednesday 25th February

6. Sydney, Australia

Like London and San Francisco, Sydney boasts a spectacular and popular Chinatown, and this year, the city is going all out for the celebrations. Be sure to check out The Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors (Fri 13th-22nd Feb) – based on world famous ancient Chinese wonder, the clay warriors will be recreated as brightly coloured lanterns and displayed against the backdrop of the already breathtaking Sydney harbour. This accompanies the Twilight Parade (Sun 22nd Feb), a procession that differs from its contemporaries in that it occurs at dusk when the traditional Chinese lanterns are really going to shine in all their multi-coloured glory.

Chinese Dragon

Then there are the dragon boat races, which brings that very Aussie love of sport, especially water-based sport (the lucky sun-drenched devils), into the festivities. Massive, 12-metre long boats will battle it out to the sound of pounding drums over at Darlington Harbour, starting at 9am and ending at around 4pm on the Saturday (21st Feb) and 3pm on the Sunday (22nd Feb). Phew, after all that rowing you’re going to need a little grub – better hit up the Lunar Feats back over at Sydney’s Chinatown (lasts until Sun 1st March).

Find out more.

Celebrations take place from Friday 13th February – Sunday 22nd February

7. New York Chinatown, USA

As one of the oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, New York’s Chinatown challenges San Francisco for the crown of North America’s largest Chinatown. And naturally, so as not to be outdone, New York is planning for an epic celebration in 2015 with a parade to rival their West Coast pretenders. It’ll be an all day affair, taking place on Sunday 22nd February, and you can expect all manner of traditional dress, music and dragon dancing to hit the streets, along with more tasty, tasty food than you could ever dream of eating.

Find out more.

Celebrations take place on Sunday 22nd February

Thank you to Chong Fat and Ed Schipul for the brilliant images, which were under Creative Commons Licence at time of publishing.

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