Destinations across the UK are holding parades and festivities to mark the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Dog.
Starting on February 16, Chinese New Year is a prime time for travel for tourists from China, and the UK will host some of the largest celebrations outside Asia.
The UK saw strong growth from China during the first nine months of 2017 with spending up 48% and visits up 33%.
Tourism agency VisitBritain estimates that full-year figures will reach 330,000 visits and spending of about £667 million.
Forecasts for 2018 predict about 349,000 visits from China to the UK, with visitors spending about £722 million.
Patricia Yates, VisitBritain director, said: “We want the UK to be the destination of choice for visitors from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market.
“We’re building on the growth we have seen, launching a new campaign in China showcasing that Britain is bursting with fun activities and wonderfully unexpected experiences all year round.
“And we are working with commercial partners such as BA and Ctrip to convert the inspiration to visit into bookings, making it easier to travel here and explore more of the UK, driving our ambitious plans for growth.”
VisitBritain’s digital marketing campaign ‘I Travel For…’ launched last week in China, promoting Britain’s “unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations, alongside globally renowned and iconic cultural landmarks and attractions”.
Chinese visitors are some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £1,972 during their visit, more than three times the average.
How the UK is celebrating Chinese New Year:
• Liverpool is holding three days of celebrations in Chinatown (February 16-18). The Chinese New Year celebrations are part of Liverpool’s ‘China Dream’ season, with the city showcasing contemporary Chinese arts and culture during 2018, including ‘China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors’ at Liverpool’s World Museum.
• London’s events include a parade from Charing Cross to Chinatown and performances in Trafalgar Square, with food and family zones in Leicester Square and martial arts performances in Shaftesbury Ave.
• Manchester is putting on its annual Dragon Parade, led by a 175-foot dragon, ending in Chinatown. There will also be traditional lion dancing, martial arts displays and food stalls.
• Birmingham is putting on its biggest ever Chinese New Year celebrations – double the size of previous years and held in the city’s Chinese Quarter. Festivities including lion dances, funfair rides, street food and traditional Chinese entertainment.
• NewcastleGateshead’s festivities will be bigger after a successful crowdfunding campaign. The parade will include dragon, lion and unicorn dances.
• Edinburgh is holding a Chinese New Year Concert.
• Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is hosting its first Chinese New Year celebrations on February 17, with a Chinese Lion dance and Chinese street food.
• Electric Woods on the Isle of Wight is the venue for Robin Hill’s Spirit of the Orient, with themed lighting and entertainment.
• Durham’s Oriental Museum is holding a late-night opening on February 24 to mark the end of Chinese New Year and the Lunar New Year Lantern Festival.
• Kelvin Hall, The Riverside Museum and Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow are marking Chinese New Year with a family trail and a lion dance between all three venues.