Welcome to the online home of the China National Tourist Office in London's Spring Festival celebrations. Find out more about our Spring Festival online event schedule, learn more about the culture and history of this much-treasured tradition, and find inspiration to celebrate Spring Festival at home with your friends or family.
Find details of all of the magnificent online events from ourselves and our treasured partners, including what to expect, and how you can get involved in the harmonious spirit of Spring Festival.
Minister Chen Wen Introduces "From China With National Ballet"
What: Every Thursday at 19:00 between Feb 11th and March 11th, four full-length performances by the revered National Ballet of China will be premiered on YouTube, and will each be available for 7 days.
Schedule: Feb 11th - Feb 18th: Chinese New Year - The Nutcracker (Chinese Version)
Feb 18th - Feb 25th: The Crane Calling
Feb 25th - March 4th: The Light of Heart
March 4th - March 11th: The Peony Pavilion
How to get involved? Each new performance will go live on the YouTube page of the National Ballet of China. Visit their page and subscribe here:
Minister Chen Wen Introduces "A Gourmet Journey Across China"
What: Between January 25th and February 27th, tune in to Sky channel 191 in the afternoon to enjoy a feast of specially chosen China-themed food programmes. This TV celebration of Chinese cuisine is being broadcast by our friends and partners, China Hour. By the end of A Gourmet Journey Across China, you’ll be ready to prepare a banquet of authentic, delicious Chinese dishes, and you’ll know the stories and traditions behind each dish.
How to get involved? Visit Sky Channel 191 in the afternoons (typically from 15:30 each weekday). Don't forget to share what you've learnt and which recipes you're going to try on our social media, using the hashtag #AGourmetJourneyAcrossChina.
China Hour Social Media Links:
Minister Chen Wen Introduces Chinese New Year at the National Maritime Museum
What: Chinese New Year 2021 marks the twentieth year of Spring Festival celebrations from Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG). Across two decades, RMG's colourful, culture-fuelled programmes have honoured the fruitful relationship between Britain and China, and celebrated the value of cultural engagement. This year, the Museum's activities are going online on February 13th, with videos, stories, online classes and introductions to its Chinese collections. You can also enjoy special New Year performances on their Facebook page from 4pm on February 12th, including an Ehru (traditional Chinese instrument) performance from Mr Duong Yang.
How to get involved? Visit their website to find out more: https://www.rmg.co.uk/see-do/e...
Follow the social media pages of the National Maritime Museum using the links below. We'll also be sharing their wonderful schedule of events and activities across our channels too.
National Maritime Museum Social Media Links:
What: Since 2019, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has held Chinese New Year events with the Cambridge China Centre, aiming to promote cultural understanding and appreciation to families in and around Cambridge. This year's family-friendly schedule is all online, and includes a zodiac sign treasure hunt, and a hand-made lantern activity.
How to get involved? Visit their website to find out more: https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac....
Follow the social media pages of the Fitzwilliam Museum using the links below. We'll also be sharing their delightful schedule of events and activities across our channels too.
Fitzwilliam Museum Social Media Links:
What: Our friends at Tullie House are hosting a daily series of Chinese New Year activities between February 12th and February 21st. Make sure you visit their website to find out more about their exciting programme of fun online events and activities to celebrate the Year of the Ox, which includes crafts, quizzes, stories and more.
How to get involved? Visit their website to find out more: https://www.tulliehouse.co.uk/events/chinese-new-year-2021
Follow the social media pages of Tullie House using the links below. We'll also be sharing their wonderful schedule of events and activities across our channels too.
Tullie House Social Media Links:
What: In order to share the festivities and human messages of Spring Festival with the world, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has joined with national and state broadcasters, as well as 10 cities including Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai and more, to create an action-packed live broadcast schedule of cultural activities and experiences. Launching on February 4th, this global celebration will be available via YouTube, and from 16th - 25th February, the 10 cities will broadcast their own events and activities, culminating with the lantern festival Tang Poetry Club on February 26th.
Keep an eye on our social media channels, as we will be providing links and information for a fantastic selection of these broadcasts. Stay tuned!
What: We will be sharing some high-quality Spring Festival resources, performances and more, from a selection provided by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. These include concerts, dance dramas, acrobatics, food workshops, virtual exhibitions, short videos, interactive experiences and more.
How to get involved? Visit China Culture's Spring Festival website here: http://en.chinaculture.org/spe...
Once again, keep an eye on our social media channels to enjoy as much Spring Festival content as possible. As always, be sure to comment and let us know what you think, and get involved using the hashtag #SpringFestival2021
Image credit: © Hawlfraint y Goron / Crown Copyright
What: Spring Festival’s spirit is all about global unity and harmony, allowing our collective actions to speak loudly as we come together across the world. Wales’ national day of celebration, St. David’s Day, is going online this year as a 72-hour digital festival, bringing together an event programme including music, art, yoga, a cook-a-long, dark skies and more. CNTO London are honoured to share this event in the spirit of Chinese New Year, and the admirable and inspiring message of St. David’s Day:
‘This is Wales. We’re doing good things – for each other, for our country, for the world. Come and join us.’
How to get involved? You can find the timetable for St. David’s Day’s 72-hour digital programme here: https://www.wales.com/gwyl-dewi-wales-celebrates
You can also get involved by following their social media channels:
The Apple World Map by Helen Cann commissioned by and licensed to the Cider Museum, The Brightspace Foundation and National Trust Copyright © Helen Cann 2020
What: Apples and People is an eighteen-month digital exploration of the global story of the apple, drawing on expertise and art collections from around the world. With more than forty stories from across the globe about the humble apple, including its origins in China, this remarkable project symbolises global connectedness and the harmony between humanity and nature, chiming beautifully with the spirit of Chinese New Year.
How to get involved? Visit the Apples and People website here: https://applesandpeople.org.uk/
Visit YouTube and enjoy this wonderful performance by poet Charlie Staunton to whet your appetite for this unique programme:
This is the flag of Herefordshire, home of the Hereford Cider Museum. This design was chosen by the people of Herefordshire 15 months ago, and it shows the Hereford bull, the red soil of Herefordshire and the unspoilt River Wye that passes through the county.
As the recognition and celebration of Chinese New Year has increased around the globe, the need for an instantly recognisable symbol has grown; one which is synonymous with not just the Spring Festival itself but its many important meanings and messages too.
Since 2013, the above symbol has been used to promote Spring Festival across the world. So why this symbol? What does it mean, and what message does it share?
This design was derived from the ‘oracle’ version of the Chinese character for Spring - ‘oracle’ is the oldest form of Chinese writing, carved on animal bones thousands of years ago. It resembles seedlings breaking the ground in a sun-bathed vigorous season full of renewal and hope, symbolising Chinese philosophy of the unity and harmonious interaction between humans and nature.
It also depicts a family sitting around a table together for their New Year’s Eve dinner, an important tradition during Spring Festival, and one which captures the importance of home, family, and togetherness.
Finally, it suggests people singing and dancing around the world, welcoming the arrival of Spring. This message of global unity and harmony is fundamental to today’s Spring Festival.
Spring Festival’s spirit, meaning, and offering to the globe is captured in just three words: Hope, Home, and Harmony. This year however, a fourth word has taken on extra significance, and ties into the ethos of the other three - Health.
Hope: the festival heralding the arrival of new growth.
Spring Festival’s origins stretch back to China’s ancient Agricultural Calendar, also known as the Xia Calendar as it dates back to the Xia Dynasty. The year was broken into 24 ‘solar terms’, which captured the seasonal changes throughout the year. Throughout Chinese history, households decorated their homes ahead of the beginning of Spring, hoping for a successful and bountiful harvest. This hope, and the reflection of this tradition and its recognition of the connection between humanity and nature, today define what Spring Festival was, is, and will continue to be.
Home: the festival celebrated for family reunion.
In China, the mass migration of China’s huge population across the country is commonplace in the build-up to Spring Festival. At the heart of this movement is the ingrained need to be with one’s family unit for the festivities. The importance of family in Chinese society is high, with great value placed on the deep human relations at the heart of the family unit.
Harmony: the festival shared with the whole world.
Today, Spring Festival is celebrated across the globe, and offers people a window into Chinese culture and traditions. Historically, Chinese New Year was connected to the lunar calendar’s new year, and the term ‘Spring Festival’ wasn’t used to denote the same celebration until around 100 years ago. Countries near China who used to follow the lunar calendar also have their own lunar new year festivities, even those who now follow the Gregorian calendar, contributing to the spread of the annual celebrations around the world. Now more than ever, it is important to have a celebration of harmony across the globe.
Health: the festival as an embodiment of the crucial link between humanity and nature.
As citizens of the same planet, we share many challenges ahead, from ecological and environmental, to the continuing effects of the pandemic. The 3 central ideas behind Spring Festival - hope, home, and harmony - each have their part to play as we work together to ensure the ongoing health of our neighbours, our loved ones, and our planet.
Around the globe, Chinese New Year has become synonymous with the different animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which is a 12-year cycle of animal signs that begins with the rat. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, with the ox being the second animal in this cycle. It is the traits of the animal from the year you are born that are said to influence you, so here are the characteristics for those born this year, and every 12 years prior to this year!
As you’d expect, the ox embodies hard work, endurance, and responsibility. The ox can be relied on, is protective, and can also be stubborn. Those born in the year of the ox are said to be kind, down to earth, and serious.
Chinese dumplings (Jiaozi) are enjoyed in different ways across China throughout the festivities. Traditionally, Jiaozi are enjoyed as part of a reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve in northern China, with locals of mountainous regions tucking in for breakfast from the first to the fifth day of the first lunar month.
Tangyuan are glutinous sweet rice balls made from glutinous rice flour and various fillings, which are cooked and served in boiling water, or fried or steamed. While jiaozi are more popular in the north, tangyuan are more popular in the south. Traditionally, they are eaten on the first day of the lunar new year.
Cooking a Whole Fish
Cooking a whole fish is a cherished tradition for Chinese families during Spring Festival. It is typically served on New Year’s Eve, with some left over for the next day to represent having enough to spare in the year to come, and in the south of China, it is usually the final dish enjoyed at a banquet on New Year’s Eve.
Lanterns decorate houses and streets throughout China during Spring Festival, which culminates with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the new year.
On the 15th day, it’s customary for people to take a walk with their families and enjoy the colourful lanterns on display, and take part in fun activities such as guessing lantern riddles.
This year, Lantern Festival is celebrated on Friday 26th February.
Take part in our short Spring Festival mini-quiz to be in with a chance of winning some cheerful China-themed goodies with our weekly Spring Festival Giveaway throughout February.
CNTO London is the overseas office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism covering the UK, Ireland, Finland, Iceland and Norway. For any questions or queries you might have about travel to China, or to get to know more about China, it is best to contact the embassy where you live. Please follow the links below to find out more:
Ireland - http://ie.china-embassy.org/eng/
Finland - http://www.chinaembassy-fi.org/eng/
Norway - http://www.chinese-embassy.no/eng/
Iceland - http://is.china-embassy.org/eng/
If you are press or media looking for marketing materials for any of the Spring Festival events and activities, please use the link below to email us with your request.
Many thanks to our valued culture and tourism partners for our Spring Festival 2021 celebrations.