This week, London will be full of celebrations to welcome the Year of the Rat. Every year, London's Chinatown holds a spectacular event to celebrate Chinese New Year, the largest event outside of Asia.
This year in the UK, there seems to be a huge amount of interest in Chinese culture. For the third year running, the 'China in London' season is being held. This extended event will run from February to April, culminating in the Olympic torch relay, when the Olympic flame will pass through London on its way to the start of the Beijing Games.
The 'China in London' season will incorporate a huge number of events, ranging from art exhibitions to modern dance, film festivals to tea tastings, musical concerts to children’s half-term activities. In addition, another Chinese culture festival, 'China Now' is launching at Chinese New Year.
This is a nationwide season of events leading up to the Beijing Olympics. As well as cultural events, this programme includes an education programme for schools to develop relationships with China, and a Football Exchange, where the UK Football Association will be coaching children in China and offering a lucky few the chance to visit Britain on a football tour.
The main Chinese New Year celebration will be held on Sunday 10th February, and is expected to attract around 300,000 visitors. It will showcase both traditional and contemporary Chinese arts, bringing together British-born and Chinese performers.
The linchpin of the day is the grand parade through the streets of London, led by a traditional dragon dance, flanked by musicians, acrobats, artists and children. There will be a large stage and screen in Trafalgar Square featuring martial arts, music and dance.
It wouldn't be Chinese New Year without fireworks and firecrackers, so Leicester Square will see displays on the hour all afternoon. Nearby theatres and arts centres will also be holding special New Year events, such as variety shows.
Happy New Year to you, we hope you enjoy your celebrations as much as we will enjoy them in London.