Celebrations for the Lunar New Year in London are the biggest in the world outside of Asia, with people usually flocking in from all over the UK and from around the world. After a few years off due to – well let’s not go there – celebrations are back with a bang this year for the ‘Year of the Rabbit’, which is rung in on Sunday January 22. Symbolising mercy, elegance, and beauty, the rabbit is reputedly the luckiest of all the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, so fingers crossed this year brings us all some hope and prosperity, hey?!
So, without further ado, here’s our roundup of some of the best things to do in London to celebrate this Lunar New Year. And yes – it does involve a hell of a lot of eating and drinking. After all, that is the Secret London way…
1. Enjoy Lunar New Year celebrations at the National Maritime Museum
This fascinating (and free!) spot in the UNESCO-listed borough of Greenwich is interesting enough anyway, but throw in the Lunar New Year celebrations they’ve got going on this year, and you can dial that up to a hundred. On Saturday January 21, the museum will be hosting a full day of celebrations in collaboration with the Newham Chinese Association, the Greenwich Vietnam Women’s Group and the Association of Chinese Women in Woolwich.
Events on offer include a talk on how the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac were chosen, a lantern-making workshop and a chance to learn the ancient Chinese practices of Tai Chi and Qigong. There’s also a performance from The Bitten Peach – the UK’s first queer pan-Asian cabaret production company. Tickets are free, but you’ll need to make sure you book ahead. Grab your tickets here.
2. Celebrate with a slap-up ‘Year of the Rabbit’ meal at Hutong
Perched on Level 33 of London’s most visible building, The Shard, Hutong is all about tasty Northern Chinese cooking and exquisite, cityscape views. What better way to ring in the Lunar New Year than here we say?! Sifu (that’s ‘master’ to me and you) Fei Wang has pulled out all the stops this year and has designed a delectable five-course ‘Year of the Rabbit’ menu, which you can enjoy on the weekend of Lunar New Year itself – January 21 and 22 – for a price of £138 per person.
Rustled-up dishes will include Hutong’s famous roast Peking duck with pancakes and Hoisin sauce, and ‘Lo Hei’ – a prosperity-bringing salad traditionally eaten at Lunar New Year. Lion dancers will perform throughout the evening on January 22 and a Chinese calligrapher on January 21, and you’ll also be able to indulge in a special cocktail called ‘HePing’ – a unique blend of three different wines infused with fresh cherries, Tanqueray no. 10, basil cordial and lychee liqueur. Find out more here.
3. Try a cuppa or two of a new type of tea themed to the ‘Year of the Rabbit’
In celebration of the Lunar New Year, luxury tea brand Mariage Frères has added a new blend to its Thé Des Signes® Chinese zodiac collection – Lapin – to welcome in the ‘Year of the Rabbit’. Emulating the namesake sign, this new and exciting brand of tea incorporates gourmet notes of honeydew melon and starfruit enlivened with a dash of fresh mint and white currant.
It’s presented inside a meadow-green, pagoda-themed tin to take you on a journey back to historic East Asia, and Tibetan goji berries – the signature ingredient of the Thé Des Signes® range – add plenty of antioxidants. It all sounds pretty damn great to us, and who doesn’t love a cuppa or two? Mariage Frères is based in Covent Garden, or you can purchase your tea online for £26 per pagoda. We’re already itching to get our cold, weather-beaten hands on it! Order it here.
4. Indulge in a delicious feast at Pan Pacific’s Straits Kitchen
Nothing says a celebration like a big feast – and luckily for you dear reader, the folks over at Straits Kitchen in Pan Pacific have really pulled out all of the stops this year. Their four-course sharing dinner on Saturday January 21 kicks off with a welcome ‘Jade Rabbit’ cocktail or mocktail and is then followed by dishes including braised Abalone with shiitake mushrooms, steamed seabass with XO sauce and lobster stir-fried noodles. It costs £138 per person and you can opt to add in two hours’ worth of bottomless wine too. You know it makes sense…
Alternatively, join on actual Lunar New Year and dig in to a traditional sharing roast, which for a price of £116 per person gets you a variety of Asian-spiced roasted meats, alongside house specialities such as native lobster laksa and black cod & black truffle rainbow yusheng. You can also indulge in a lovely afternoon tea in the neighbouring Orchard Lounge, which includes crispy wontons with aromatic duck and tofu, a lobster bun and Kaya toast too. Sign. Us. Up.
5. Get your noodle fix at Mama Chen’s pop-up in The Gantry
To celebrate the ‘Year of the Rabbit’, from Wednesday 18 until Sunday January 22, pop-up restaurant Mama Chen’s will be decorating the ground floor of The Gantry hotel in Stratford with Chinese lanterns and other auspicious decorations, and will be offering customers special giveaways and authentic dishes throughout.
The concise menu pays homage to Head Chef Michelle Liu grandmother’s cooking, and features a selection of dim sum, including the traditional Chinese chive and prawn dumplings, prawn and pork wontons with Mama Chen’s chilli oil, and green panda vegetable dumplings – all priced at £6.50 for four pieces. Other standout dishes on the menu include spicy noodles coated with Mama Chen’s crunchy garlic and numbing Szechuan oil and tofu puffs with shiitake mushroom and garlic sriracha. They’re even offering free buns with every whole ‘shebang dumpling feast for two’ – winner, winner.
6. Include your four-legged friend in the celebrations
Fresh off their Christmas-themed afternoon tea – which by all accounts went down a complete storm – the Notting Hill-based Pawsitive Café are ringing in the Lunar New Year with authentic decorations, traditional lion dancing, and a fantastic limited-edition menu. Dishes include golden fried mantou, yee sang and Lunar New Year cookies, and there will be plenty of mocktails on the bill too.
As always at Pawsitive, four-legged friends are more than welcome and can join their owners in celebrating the New Year with the café’s dedicated doggy menu and by making the most of its dog-friendly ball pit and dedicated play area for pooches.
7. Gorge on a delectable dessert and limited-edition cocktails at The Ivy Mayfair
In honour of one of Asia’s most exciting celebrations, The Ivy Asia, Mayfair is bringing Lunar New Year to the heart of the capital in an exclusive partnership with Ki No Bi Gin. Guests will be able to welcome in the new year in style with a show-stopping external installation alongside a limited-edition cocktail menu and ‘The Golden Rabbit’ – a devilishly-divine dessert consisting of chocolate brownie, crunchy honeycomb and raspberry pearls topped with a gooey and golden soft serve ice cream.
Available from January 16 to February 27, there will also be a signature range of cocktails on offer, including The Lucky Rabbit, which features a citric blend of Ki No Bi Gin, citrus, cherry, and Ivy Champagne. Sounds pretty damn good to us…
8. Tuck into some tasty food at Chino Latino
From January 23 until February 4, Chino Latino will be celebrating the arrival of the Lunar New Year with a special three course set menu for just £45 per person. From 6pm, guests will be able to enjoy the feast in the glass fronted Thameside restaurant, with sweeping views up the river to the Houses of Parliament. Executive Chef Werner Seebach has created a delectable menu to mark the ‘Year of the Rabbit’ and celebrate the pan-Asian restaurant’s Chinese influence.
Dishes include dim sum favourites such as scallop siu mai, char siu pork buns, as well as tender pork belly with lemongrass and nashi salsa, and crispy duck pancakes with rich hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onion. We’re practically salivating at the thought…
9. Get involved with themed menus at both Hakkasan and Yauatcha
If you’re looking to pull out all the stops this Lunar New Year, then look no further than these two beloved spots, which both feature on our list of the best Chinese restaurants in London. First up is the Michelin-starred Hakkasan, whose two branches in Hanway Place and Mayfair will be ushering in the ‘Year of the Rabbit’ with a luxurious set menu and a special ‘Tùzi Tail’, in collaboration with Hennessy X.O. They’re also bringing back their ever-popular wishing tree, so you can post your best wishes and garlands for the year ahead.
Similarly, renowned dim sum tea houses Yauatcha City and Yauatcha Soho will be seeing in the new year with a decadent limited edition menu and cocktail, the ‘Bunny Sour’, in partnership with Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru. They’ll also embellish each restaurant with beautiful bespoke rabbit illustrations as well as offering an adorable – and very photogenic it has to be said – rabbit-shaped dessert. Win, win.
10. Wine and dine on an eight-course tasting menu at Tooting’s Daddy Bao
Tooting’s favourite neighbourhood Taiwanese restaurant, Daddy Bao, is celebrating the Lunar New Year with two evenings of intimate celebration on Monday January 23 and Tuesday January 24. Both nights will feature an exclusive eight-course tasting menu (yep, seriously), inspired by classic flavours and traditions but with a creative Daddy Bao twist.
Dishes on the bill include grilled scallops with umami butter and crispy seaweed and pork jiaozi with dipping sauce. If you’re a veggie or vegan you needn’t worry either, as there’s plenty here for you too. Our top picks would include the eight treasure cabbage and the banana blossom bao. Tickets are just 50 quid and you can get them here.
11. Pull out all the stops with a celebratory dinner at Tattu
Tattu first swung open its doors in April of last year, and it has made major waves since then. To celebrate the ‘Year of the Rabbit’, they’ll be inviting guests to indulge in a limited-edition menu with everything from yellowtail sashimi to caramel soy-aged beef fillet steaks on it. Plus, on Sunday February 5, the critically-acclaimed restaurant will be hosting an unmissable brunch with live entertainment from the lion dancers and their resident deep house DJs. Now this sounds like one party we want to get involved with… Find out more here.
12. Be entertained by performers and more at The Brunswick in Bloomsbury
From 4.30pm on Friday January 20, The Brunswick will be celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a range of FREE spectacular Chinese New Year performances at the centre for all to enjoy. Yep, you read that right. Free!
On the roaster will be an eclectic mix of performances, including traditional Chinese lion performers, a Money God mascot performer, live Chinese music and more to keep you entertained. Add in some of the best Asian street food in town and you’ve got yourself one hell of a celebration we say! It’s also just a stone’s throw from Fork Deli – one of our favourite delis and wine bars.
13. Bottomless brunch it up at Tai Pan Alley or Inamo
Now there’s nothing more we love at Secret London than a bottomless brunch, so we figured what better way to celebrate Lunar New Year with bucket loads of booze and some tasty Asian food?! We’ve got four options available to you to ring in the ‘Year of the Rabbit’. Head to Tai Pan Alley in Camden Town, where you’ll be able to be able to enjoy the very best of Asian homestyle cooking and cocktails with either a bottomless brunch or a bottomless dinner.
Alternatively, make your way to the futuristic Inamo in either Soho or Covent Garden where you’ll be able to dig into endless supplies of sushi and Asian tapas for afternoon tea or for lunch and dinner.
14. Celebrate from the comfort of your own home with a slice of cake
If you’re not wanting to leave your house this January (and who can blame you when the weather is like this), then why not get the party started from the comfort of your very own sofa? Patisserie Valerie’s decadent new Lunar New Year Cake has been lovingly handmade to make the celebrations extra special.
Available for nationwide delivery and serving up to 14 people, the decadent cake features layers of golden sponge filled with raspberry jam and vanilla cream and is finished with red Swiss meringue buttercream, delicate golden sugar pearls and shiny gold chocolate coins to symbolise good fortune and prosperity. Sounds delicious if you ask us – you can order it here.
15. Dance the night away at a silent disco in the Science Museum
No – seriously! The Science Museum’s free adults-only, after-hours Lates are kicking off 2023 with a celebration of Lunar New Year on Wednesday January 25.
There will be fascinating talks, illuminating tours, hands-on workshops, as well as regular Lates highlights, with the chance to dance the night away at the silent disco in their ‘Exploring Space’ gallery!
Highlights include revealing the secrets of the Terracotta army and a talk with experts; a festive Lion and Dragon dance performance; going on a trail to discover the Chinese zodiac animals hiding away in the museum; Chinese calligraphy workshops; and an exciting VR tour of the Tiangong Space Station to find out what life is like for a ‘taikonaut’. Find out more here.
16. Take a wander through London’s Chinatown and sample some delicious delicacies
We thought what better way to round up this list of the best ways in which to celebrate Lunar New Year than taking a wander through Chinatown. Offering loads of yummy food options, all the saucy dumplings you could want and some Chinese supermarkets to inspire you to get cooking at home, it’s the perfect place to while away the hours on Lunar New Year. Try ‘lucky’ jiaozi dumplings at Dumplings Legend, Tao Tao Ju, or Orient London, tuck into braised lobster with ginger and spring onions at Plum Valley or enjoy steamed sea bass at Jin Li.
You could also pick up some tang yuans (or ‘soup balls’) at the See Woo Supermarket, and there are plenty of bars for you to raise a glass at – the Japanese-influenced Yatay Soko and Opium Bar – famous for it’s hidden cocktail spot ‘Peony’ – would be our top picks. They also tend to do an incredible Lunar New Year display – so don’t miss out!
So there you have it – the Secret London roundup of the best things to do for the Lunar New Year in 2023. From gorging yourself silly on some tantalisingly good food to watching live performers at the National Maritime Museum, there’s something for everyone here. So how will you celebrate the ‘Year of the Rabbit’?