How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East

The Chinese New Year is one of the world's most prominent and celebrated festivals in the world. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival in modern China, or simply the Lunar New Year, which celebrates the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. 

Celebrations traditionally run from the evening proceeding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February meaning the Year of the Dog starts on Friday, 16 February 2018.

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East
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Chinese New Year 2018

The countdown to Chinese New Year is officially on, with celebrations taking place across the country. Nearly 200,000 Chinese people live in the UK – and hundreds of thousands of people, of all nationalities, will welcome the Year of the Dog in with them. 

Chinese New Year parades are a great opportunity to watch costumed dragon dancers and lion dancers. Dragons are common in Chinese mythology, in which they are revered symbols of the nation and people. Usually, two lion dancers share a single costume depicting a large, stylized lion. The lion is a powerful, majestic character in Chinese mythology, but the dance often includes comic elements, such as a silly monk who helps the lion track down a lettuce, and is accompanied by traditional Chinese drumming.

There are lots of great ways to celebrate in North East England with free events taking place in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham city centres plus an amazing array of Chinese restaurants across the region in which to celebrate, and a growing number of Chinese supermarkets if you’d like to try your hand at cooking your own Chinese celebratory meal.

So what’s happening in North East England?

There are FREE events happening in Sunderland and Durham on Saturday 17 February and in Newcastle City Centre on Sunday 18 February.


Saturday 17 February
Sunderland Museum & Wintergardens - 11 am – 3 pm 
Celebrate the Year of the Dog with Lion dances, Chinese arts and crafts, family trails, music and selling stalls. The event is free but there will be a small charge for some activities.

A Chinese Zodiac Animals Trail is also running from Saturday, February 3, to Sunday, February 25. Will you be able to find the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac hiding in the Museum? Find all the clues and answer the questions to claim a themed prize. £2.50 per child. Trails are available to buy from museum reception.

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East


Saturday 17 February
Various locations across city centre - From 12 noon
To drive away bad luck and bring a fresh start, the traditional Chinese Lion will dance its way through the city centre, and scatter lucky lettuce leaves. The dance of the Chinese lion is a tradition in Durham City Centre each Chinese New Year. The lion will perform an energetic routine before eating the lucky lettuce, chewing it and spitting it out to a chosen recipient. Follow the Chinese lion from the Market Place, around the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre to Elvet Bridge, Framwellgate Bridge and finishing at Walkergate.

At the ORIENTAL MUSEUM - 1 pm - 3 pm you can celebrate the start of the Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac with rooster-themed crafts and activities. Celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year festivities and make your own fluffy dog to take home. This is a drop-in activity which is included in the Museum admission price and is aimed at children aged 5 to 11.

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East


Friday 16 February - 12 noon
intu Eldon Square, Newcastle
Starting at Grey’s Monument entrance and proceeding to St Andrew’s Way, outside New Look.

One of the highlights of Chinese New Year is the spectacular Lion Dance, which intu Eldon Square is welcoming into the shopping centre for a Chinese New Year’s Day performance to launch The Year of the Dog at 12 noon on Friday 16 February.

The lively and exciting Lion Dance, which Chinese tradition claims brings good luck and scares away evil spirits for the year ahead, will be performed by members of Edmund Ng’s Choi Lee Fut Kung Fu Dragon and Lion team.

Saturday 17 February - 11am - 3pm
Chinese New Year Grainger Market
Celebrate the year of the Dog in the Grainger Market. Try Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting, engraving, origami as well as watching martial arts demonstrations outside Dumpling and Bun in Alley 2.

Sunday 18 February
Various locations across city centre
After a successful crowdfunding campaign by the Chinese Festivity Group, this year’s celebrations will be on a bigger scale than ever before.  The city will be alive with colour and celebration as people flock to Chinatown on Stowell Street but this year a parade will start in the heart of the city centre for the first time. Expect a vibrant parade including dragon, lion and unicorn dances. In addition to floats and various performances like drumming by a female troupe, Chinese folk dances and children's dragon dance, colourful flags and banners will be displayed. The proposed route is from The Monument/Old Eldon Square to Chinatown (Stowell Street).

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East

Chinese New Year

The new years follow the Chinese lunar calendar, which means that Chinese New Year falls on different days each year and coincides with the new moon in January or February. It continues for 15 days and is all about regeneration and new life. The Chinese New Year has been associated with the Chinese Zodiac since the Spring-Autumn Period (771 to 476 BC).

The Chinese Zodiac runs on a cycle of 12 years, with each year named after an animal. The 12 animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. People are said to hold similar personality traits to the animal named after the year they were born.
2018 will be the Chinese Year of the Dog (the dog is seen as a symbol of loyalty and honesty); following on from 2017's year of the Rooster, 2016’s year of the Monkey, 2015’s year of the Sheep, 2014’s year of the Horse and 2013’s year of the Snake.

Traditional Celebrations

Traditions differ, but the main message of Chinese New Year is for families to come together and wish each other peace and prosperity for the year ahead. Chinese New Year is a time of happiness and good fortune and it's important to spread the goodwill.

  • To prepare you should clean your home to sweep away the bad luck.
  • Put up red decorations. Red is the colour or symbol of good luck in Chinese culture and is often used for new year decorations.
  • Dress for the occasion. Avoid wearing too much black during the celebration period. Black symbolizes bad luck.
  • Give gifts of money in red envelopes. Adults give lucky envelopes of money to children during this holiday.
  • Learn about Chinese cooking and food traditions and cook your own feast.
  • Make dumplings for the Lantern Festival - the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year. Dumplings play a special role during Chinese New Year because of their shape, which resembles ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots.

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East

The Year of the Dog

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. This year it's the Year of the Dog, the eleventh animal in the cycle. The next Year of the Dog will be in 2030. 

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East

People born in the Year of the Dog are usually independent, sincere, loyal and decisive according to Chinese zodiac analysis. They are not afraid of difficulties in daily life. These shining characteristics make them have harmonious relationships with people around. 

Me, I'm a Pig which has Chinese Zodiac characteristics of being honourable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere and sociable. 

There are many Chinese traditions associated with the New Year. Celebrations include decorations, parades, folk traditions, and a wonderful feast. We’ll be heading to Durham and Newcastle to join in the celebrations in Newcastle this weekend before enjoying a Chinese family banquet at home and ‘Peking’ Jackfruit Hoisin Pancakes

What Chinese year were you born in?

Kung hey Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year!

Deb x