Unexpected places to celebrate Chinese New Year 2014

I first encountered Chinese New Year in a seemingly unlikely place – Melbourne, Australia. There, crowds follow the customary dragon dances and deafening drums as they follow in procession from one end of Chinatown to the other, evicting bad spirits from businesses as they go.

What are your experiences of Chinese New Year? Tell us your highlights in the comments below

Chinese Red Lantern

It’s not really surprising to find this most important of Chinese festivities in a place like Melbourne. Since the 19th century, many millions of Chinese people have migrated to places as far flung as Australia, the US, South Africa, Europe, India, Malaysia and South East Asia.

So planning ahead to Chinese New Year 2014 (yes sometimes I like to plan ahead!), why not mark the coming of the Year of the Horse at a destination near you? Naturally, you’ll find the biggest celebrations in places with strong Chinese communities. San Francisco, Singapore, London and Sydney are some of the most obvious – but here’s another three that may surprise you:

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Rome

If there’s one thing all Romans know, it’s how to party. In 2012, more than 50,000 people took part in Chinese New Year events in the Italian capital. This year, celebrations kicked off with a traditional parade along Via dei Fori Imperiali. Naturally, it all culminated in fireworks over the Colosseum.

Why celebrate here?
Rome’s celebrations have a definite air of authenticity. They’re promoted by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Italy and many of the performers on show – including a host of acrobats, dancers and martial arts specialists – are flown in from China.

Barcelona

Since 2001, Barcelona has been twinned with Shanghai. The cities have formed a strong bond, so Barcelona’s authorities go all out for Chinese New Year, putting on festivities pitched at all Barcelonans, not just Chinese expatriates. Expect food tastings, art shows and martial arts displays.

Why celebrate here?
Barcelona’s may not be the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside China (London, San Francisco and Sydney all lay claim to that title) but it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a cultural encounter without the crowds. What’s more, flights to Barcelona are a hop, skip and a jump compared to the long-haul to Asia.

Chinese New Year Spain

Greece

Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics followed the 2004 Athens Olympics, things have been warming up between Greece and China. So, while past Chinese New Year celebrations have been intimate affairs for local Chinese communities, that’s changing little by little. Athens was the first Greek city to host public celebrations in 2010. This year, Chinatown in Athens or Thessaloniki were hotspots for Chinese New Year festivities in Greece.

Why celebrate here?
Chinese New Year in Greece is a chance to experience two great ancient cultures slowly opening up to each other. And while you’re in Greece, you might want to consider a trip to the islands too!

Have you ever celebrated Chinese New Year in one of these locations? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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About the Author: Jessica

Jessica is a passionate traveller and regular contributor to the Monarch blog.

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