LONDON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- London hosts on Sunday the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, attracting tens of thousands of people heading to areas around Chinatown to share the joy.
Festivities began with a two-hour long Grand Parade featuring the largest gathering of over 50 Chinese Dragon and Lion teams through the streets from Trafalgar Square, via West End before reaching its final destination Chinatown.
Stage performance "Cultures of China, Festival of Spring" in Trafalgar Square was the highlight of the celebration, featuring a spectacular gravity-defying lion dance on a pair of high poles, acrobatics and musical performances by the China Railway Art Troupe, the Chinese National Symphony Orchestra, the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe and the Chinese Air Force Art Troupe.
The theme for the celebration this year is "Celebrating the Golden Era for UK-China Relations", emphasising the friendship and beneficial collaboration between the two countries.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was among the audience in Trafalga Square, said,"Chinese New Year is always a joyous time in the city's cultural calendar. Trafalgar Square is once again filled with brilliant live music, delicious food and great entertainment for all the family."
"London is open to all people and all communities. That's why I'm so proud of the Chinese New Year festivities here in the capital, which are the largest of their kind outside of China and entertain hundreds of thousands of Londoners from all communities, as well as visitors to our city,"he added.
Mrs. Lam, a local mother who enjoyed the lion-dance parade, told Xinhua,"I think Jewish, British people and everybody who come to work in London are very aware of Chinese new year's coming, we want to be a part of it and actually want to celebrate together."
The main celebrations in London, organized by London Chinatown Chinese Association, run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and all activities are free to attend.
The Charing Cross Road stage this year has been designated as the new Talent & Community Zone, with performances and activities from up-coming British Chinese talent and DJ's from Spectrum Radio Chinese Programme to emphasise the thriving Contemporary Music Scene of the Chinese Community.
The family and children zone in Leicester Square has been extended to create a space for exciting interactive games, fun workshops and educational activities. The Martial Arts & Cultural Zone at Shaftesbury Avenue has showcased a diverse range of Chinese, East Asian and South East Asian Martial Arts. Chinatown itself was the epicentre of the New Year Party as the Food & Cuisine Zone.
This year's celebrations marks the arrival of the Year of the Dog, the 11th of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.
Peter Lam, president of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, said, "The Celebration is a good opportunity for all the communities to join in for fun and friendship. We are pleased to welcome many new groups participating in the parade, not just from China but also from different local schools and clubs around London and the UK. We hope this will bring prosperity and good fortune to everyone."