People watch lion dance to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year at Trafalgar Square in London, Britain, on Jan. 29, 2017. (Xinhua/Tim Ireland)
LONDON, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese new year has been welcomed in Britain with its biggest ever program of events and celebrations.
From London's Trafalgar Square to major cities across Britain, tens of thousands of British people have joined Chinese communities to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rooster.
Celebrations in Britain's capital city have been among the biggest outside of Asia, with a colorful parade starting in central London's Chinatown, ending at a main stage in Trafalgar Square for a festival of music and dance.
In Manchester there was a Dragon Parade, led by a spectacular 54-meter long dragon, ending in Chinatown where there was traditional Chinese entertainment, more than 6,000 lanterns, street food villages and a fireworks finale.
Europe's oldest Chinatown in Liverpool hosted its biggest ever new year celebrations, for the first time spanning three days.
Britain's second biggest city, Birmingham, put on its biggest Chinese New Year celebrations, double the size of previous years and held in the city's Chinese Quarter. Festivities included lion dances, funfair rides, street food and a host of traditional Chinese entertainment.
In England's famous Lake District visitors celebrated New Year with Ullswater Steamers, who decorated its fleet of boats for the occasion.
Celebrations will also took place in Durham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.
Academic Dr. Wu Kegang told Xinhua Sunday that the Chinese New Year event in Britain "is now bigger than ever and it is growing every year."
When Wu arrived in Britain 26 years ago from Guangdong, south China, the first thing he noticed was that Chinese New Year was celebrated mainly in towns and cities with big Chinese communities.
"You would go to London Chinatown and join your countrymen to celebrate, or to Chinatowns in places like Liverpool and Manchester for what were events almost exclusively held for Chinese people," Wu recalled.
"Now it is so different, and we are seeing local communities all over the country taking part alongside their own Chinese populations," he said. "It is clear to me that the celebrations will continue to grow in Britain. Chinese New Year has earned its place in the calendar of events in Britain, and is here to stay."
Wu, who studied for his doctorate at King's College, London, is managing director of trade organisation BCC Link to China.
The official tourism office VisitBritain also said Chinese New Year has given a boost this week to visits to Britain from China.
Flight bookings from China to Britain were up 81 percent for January 2017 compared with the same month last year.
VisitBritain's Patricia Yates called Chinese New Year "traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese travellers", saying "we want Britain to be top of their list as a must-go now destination."