10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle

We first visited the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Newcastle in January 2020. I cannot believe we have not visited before! I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for celebrations in future years as we had the best day.

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle

Keep an eye on the Edmund Ng Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu Lion & Dragon Club for date announcements and parade timings nearer the time (they usually take place at the end of January/beginning of February).

The main events and celebrations take place between 11:30am - 4pm.

2023 Information 

Chinese New Year will be celebrated in Newcastle (in around Stowell Street) on Sunday 22 January from 11:30am - 4pm. It's free to attend and all are welcome. Keep an eye on the official Facebook event here for updates. 

2023 Timings 

There will be three dance troupes this year - the Lion, Dragon and Unicorn. Provisional timings are below: 

11:45am : Lion Troupe leaves Fujiyama and heads towards the Chinese Arch 
11:45am - 2pm : Chinese University Students perform songs at the Arch 
12noon : Unicorn Troupe perform their dance and head towards Bath Lane 
12:10pm : Dragon Troupe perform their dance and departs 
12:20pm : Lion Troupe dance, Kung Fu and Firecrackers under the Arch 
12:35pm : Unicorn Troupe dance outside Hana Hana 
12:40pm : Unicorn Troupe dance outside Fujiyama
1pm : Lion Troupe dances down Stowell Street 
1:30pm - 1:45pm Chinese Students perform songs outside Fujiyama 

There will be market stalls in the Bath Lane area selling Chinese food, crafts, art and health products.

The kids marquee will return with free crafts including lantern making and calligraphy and there will be a funfair with children's rides, games, trampolines and an inflatable slide (charges apply). 

Thanks to Get Into Newcastle for these timings. They are subject to change. 

The rest of this post is based on 2020 events, this year will be similar so hopefully this will give you an idea of what to expect. 

1 - The Atmosphere

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle

The atmosphere is fantastic - lots of kids, parades, music and friendly people. It did not feel too crowded and everyone was in such a great mood despite the drizzle.

Everyone from the Chinese community was so welcoming and it was a really happy occasion.

2 - FREE Dragon & Lion Parades

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle

There are various Lion and Dragon parades around the city centre and Stowell Street as part of the celebrations. Timings for the main ceremonies are announced in advance via the Lion Facebook page.

The lion walks up Stowell Street and heads in and out of the main restaurants and businesses there throughout the day and during this time, you can usually get a good view/pretty close and there are a lot less people crowded around. Just follow the sound of the drums and look out for the lion on Stowell Street in the afternoon, you won't miss them.

In Chinese culture, the lion is a symbol of power, wisdom and superiority. During big celebrations such as Chinese New Year, the lion performs to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year.

3 - Learn about Chinese Culture  

There are various Chinese Stalls dotted around the celebrations where you can learn more about Chinese culture. We learned that Chinese Dragons symbolise wisdom, power and wealth and are said to bring good luck too. 

There were a few lovely ladies available to write your name in Chinese - this is Heidi's name, it is gorgeous! (Donations welcome)

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - Chinese writing

4 - Enjoy Chinese Street Food

There wasn't as much Chinese Street Food as I would have liked and in fact, there was a lot of traditional fairground food but Chinese Street Food could be found. There was one stall serving traditional Chinese desserts and another selling Bao Buns on Stowell Street plus a couple of others.

If I could have one criticism of the celebrations it would be that more Chinese Street Food needs to be available.  However, this is a good reason to book a restaurant (see below).

5 - Book a Restaurant & Meet a Lion

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - chinese dragon in restaurant

I would highly recommend booking a restaurant in advance.  Not only does this give you a chance to take a break from the celebrations and enjoy some yummy food (and try chopsticks) but if you time it right, the lion may visit the restaurant and provide a private performance which is brilliant.

If you contact your preferred restaurant in advance, they should be able to let you know the best time to book so you don't miss out.

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - using chopsticks

6 - Firecrackers

You can buy mini firecrackers from the stalls around Bath Lane (2 boxes for £1 in 2020). The kids had a great time setting them off and they really helped to build the festive atmosphere.

Firecrackers were originally used to scare away evil spirits. Proper firecrackers are used during some of the ceremonies and celebrations listed above.

7 - Meet the Emergency Services

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - ambulance

During our visit, children could meet & greet firefighters and paramedics as well as take a look inside their vehicles (free).

8 - Fairground Rides & Stalls 

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - fun fair

Chinese New Year has a real carnival atmosphere and my kids were chuffed to see a funfair there. Most rides were around the £2.50 mark (cash only).

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - fairground rides

9 - Chinese Crafts & Stalls 

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - Chinese stalls

We loved browsing the Chinese stalls as they were all a little different and offered something new/unique to what we were used to. The prices were pretty reasonable with a drum costing £2.50, a Rat Soft Toy £5 and snakes on a wire were £2.  You could also buy Chinese Lion puppets which looked fab (I didn't catch the price).

As we visited during the Year of the Rat, Heidi had to buy something Rat related and has now declared we must go back every year until she has the whole collection of 12 different soft toys!

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - have your name written in chinese

I was really pleased to see a large craft tent for children on Bath Lane. There were lots of crafts to try and they were all FREE. It was undercover too.

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - childrens craft tent

10 - Take a Selfie with a Chinese Lion

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle  - take a photo with a lion

If you would like to get up and close with a lion and pose for photos, it is pretty difficult to do this during the parades. But fear not, you will find a lion outside of Fujiyama who will be more than happy to pose for photos (free). There is even a member of staff there who will take a photo of you all on your phone if you all want to be in the shot. I told you everyone was friendly!

We really enjoyed Chinese New Year Celebrations in Newcastle as the atmosphere was fab, there was plenty of free entertainment (photo ops / free crafts / parades) and inexpensive options such as the stalls and fairground. We will definitely be back next year.

One thing to note is that parking and city centre traffic can get a little busy, I would recommend using public transport if possible.

Let me know if you have ever joined in with the celebrations and if I will see you there in 2021 (which will be celebrated on a Sunday around 12 February) to welcome in the year of the Ox.

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Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area. leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed since this post was published. 

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