London's main Lunar New Year celebrations will take place on February 14 this year, making for a colourful Valentine's Day in the British capital.
"The celebrations … will be the largest outside Asia," claims chinatownlondon.org, the website of London's Chinatown, with artists flying in from China specifically for the event. "The festivities will once again begin with a parade starting on Charing Cross Road which will pass through Chinatown. As well as a main stage in Trafalgar Square, Chinatown itself will be the hub of activity with restaurants serving food from across Asia.
"Unfortunately the Year of the Monkey is believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese zodiac," says the website, putting a pre-emptive downer on proceedings, "but if you are born in the Year of the Monkey, you are said to be witty and intelligent!"
In Sydney, those born a monkey are being told they are "fun-loving, inventive and curious". As they celebrate the 20th Lunar New Year festival to be staged in the Australian city, revellers will be treated to dragon-boat races and, for the first time, giant "Lunar lanterns", which will light up the central business district.
"This year also marks the 30th anniversary of our sister-city relationship with Guangzhou," says Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, "and we are delighted to welcome a delegation who will be taking part in our festivities."
Auckland, in New Zealand, will become home to a "monkey exhibition" for most of February. For Lunar New Year, a monkey "sanctuary" will be established along Parnell Road, but the exhibits will not be live simians, rather 30 life-sized art pieces, which will later be auctioned for charity.
In San Francisco, the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade will take place on the night of February 20, preceded by a week of revelry in Chinatown and the Miss Chinatown USA beauty pageant. One of the grandest nighttime parades in the United States, it started in the 1860s and has grown to be one of the largest celebrations of Asian culture outside Asia. Highlights include elaborate floats, lion dancers, marching bands, stilt walkers, Chinese acrobats and a 268-foot-long Golden Dragon.
Paris "fixes its eye on Asia for nearly three weeks, as it prepares to ring in the Chinese New Year", reports the Parisianist website. On New Year's Day, February 8, there appear to be two parades in the French capital: one that is "beautiful and captivating", in Le Marais; and another that is expected to draw 200,000 spectators to the 13th arrondissement, the heart of Chinatown. Earlier in the day, an "Opening of the Dragon's Eye" ceremony will take place in Belleville.
Elsewhere, the parade in New York Chinatown, home to the largest Lunar New Year celebrations in the Americas, takes place on February 14, the same day as the Firecracker Ceremony, in Sara D Roosevelt Park. Also on February 14 will be parades in the Chinatowns of Vancouver (celebrating its 43rd Lunar New Year festival) and Chicago, among other cities, and over in Honolulu, according to the Chinatown Now website, "Chinatown businesses will be hosting lion dances and popping fireworks all throughout the end of January".
Here's to the London pessimists having got it wrong, and a lucky Year of the Monkey!