Category Archives: London Events

Chinese New Year Festival, London 2015

chinese new year london 2015
Chinese Year of the Sheep/Goat

The 2015 Chinese New Year aka the Spring Festival in London was, as always, a riotous kaleidoscope of colourful parades, amazing costumes, traditional drumming, dragon and lion dancing; fabulous acrobatics that take your breath away and leave you cheering for the daring escapades of the extraordinary lion!!


The festival starts with a parade through the streets of the West End; from Trafalgar Square along Charing Cross Road, past China Town finishing on Shaftesbury Road in Soho.

At the head of the parade is the Chinese God of Wealth aka the Money God followed by the Dragon dancing (a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture), the dancing Lion (most often seen in festive celebrations) prances and dances through the crowds accompanied by drumming,

chinese new year london 2015
traditional drummers

cymbals and cheers from the crowds, characters from Chinese legends in traditional dress,

colourful floats, weird animal characters representing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, while various dancers and singers bring up the rear of the parade!

2015 is the Year of the Goat or Sheep.

chinese new year london 2015
Year of the Sheep 2015
King Hei Fat Choi

After the parade the crowds surge towards Trafalgar Square for the Opening Ceremony that starts with firecrackers at precisely 12 noon.

chinese new year london 2015
Trafalgar Square – Chinese New Year 2015

Firecrackers are used to signify the start of the new year and drive away evil spirits.  After this there are the speeches (usually 30 minutes), the Dotting Eye Ceremony after which we get to see

the fabulous acrobatic Flying Lion Dance; by far and away the best performance – a feat of agility, strength, balance and timing…simply breath-taking!!

and then the magical Dragon Dance. This is followed with variety performances; singers, dance troupes and martial arts performances. The finale at 5:45pm is usually an extravaganza of martial arts, opera and pop sounds from the Voice of China.

Fortunately this year the rain held out till after the dragon dances!!
Trafalgar Square and surrounding streets are lined with gift and food stalls and this event, the 7th such festival in London, drew huge crowds, a mix of London’s diverse cultures.

The Dragon dance is often performed on auspicious occasions, especially during the Chinese New Year. A team of experienced and well-practised dancers manipulate a long and fragile, colourful flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon that mimics the movements of the river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner.

Chinese dragons, a symbol of China, are believed to possess qualities that include great power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness to bring good luck to people and the community; the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring, it wards off evil spirits and welcomes good fortune. The movements traditionally symbolize power and dignity.

chinese new year london 2015
The Chinese Dragon

Colours are used to symbolize different aspects of the spring festival: green symbolizes a great harvest, red represents excitement while yellow symbolizes the solemn empire, and golden or silver colours symbolize prosperity, while the scales and tail are mostly beautiful glittering silver colours which provides a feeling of a joyous atmosphere.

Performed during the Spring festival street celebrations to pray for good luck, the lion believed to be an auspicious animal that brings good luck.

chinese new year london 2015 (26) -
Dancing Lion

The Lion dance, a Chinese folk art, is performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals. The ‘lion’ is usually two dancers with one acting as the head and the other the body, who dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong, while on the head of the lion is mirror so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections.

Chinese New Year will always fall between January 21 and February 21, with the first rule of thumb to calculate the date being that the Chinese New Year should be the new moon closest to the beginning of spring (in the northern hemisphere), known as Lìchin.

I had a wonderful day, the Chinese New Year festival is one of my favourite annual events in London, and as I was born in the Year of the Sheep, this year was a particularly special.  I was also on assignment for Mustard PR to capture the fun, the excitement and the enjoyment of the crowds for a project they are working on.

In all a fabulous event on the London 2015 calendar.

2015 london calendar
scenes of London – the 2015 calendar

Keep an eye out for the 2016 calendar; pre-order yours in September 2015

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Chinese New Year celebrations in London 22 February 2015

Chinese New Year in London 22 February  2015

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Dragon Dancing; Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year in London is one of the most spectacular in the West with hundreds of thousands of people taking part in the celebrations across the capital last year.

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Wardour Street Soho

This year, the Year of the Sheep, Chinese New Year falls on February 19th and the London celebrations take place on the Sunday following, 22nd February 2015, with a number of activities taking place in Chinatown, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and Trafalgar Square.

Festivities begin at 10am with a parade beginning at Duncannon Street, moving along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue.

What to expect at London’s Chinese New Year celebrations

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Trafalgar Square – Chinese New Year

An official opening ceremony then takes place in Trafalgar Square from 12noon with speeches from special guests. Once officially opened, the real celebrations kick off with Dragon dancing, music and performances on the Trafalgar Square stage.

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Chinese New Year – Shaftesbury Place

Join the crowds in a stall-covered Chinatown for fun and firecrackers on and around Gerrard Street, Lisle Street and Shaftesbury Avenue; impromptu parties, food stalls and lion dancing.

London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people descend on the West End to wish each other “Kung Hei Fat Choi” (or Happy New Year).

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Happy New Year

where to watch chinese new year london 2015The main stage in Trafalgar Square will feature visiting artists from China. There will also be lion teams circulating around Chinatown, local artists performing on a stage at the end of Dean Street and traditional food and craft stalls.

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
a really fierce dragon!!

With plenty of activities and celebrations to get involved in, while you’re there, sample the delights of London’s Chinatown; famous for an abundance of Chinese restaurants.

About Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, based on the lunar and solar calendars, is celebrated with huge festivals amongst Chinese communities in London and around the world. The actual date of Chinese New Year varies, but generally falls between late January and mid February.

chinese new year london
Chinese Horoscope

The Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

London will be celebrating Chinese New Year on Sunday 22nd February 2015. See official website for full events schedule.

The celebrations, with Chinese arts and entertainment from international and home-grown artists, plus food, firecrackers and fireworks, transforms the West End; Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and London’s Chinatown, as visitors welcome in the New Year; 2015 is represented by the Sheep.

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Kung Hei Fat Choi

Highlights include:

- Festivities generally begin at 10am with the fantastic New Year’s parade around the West-end. Passing through Chinatown, Shaftsbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road and Rupert Street the parade will reach its final destination of Trafalgar Square at 12pm

- An official opening ceremony takes place in Trafalgar Square from 12pm with speeches from special guests

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
Good Luck Dragon; Chinese New Year

- Once officially opened, the real celebrations kick off; Dragon dancing (not to be missed – ensure you get there early to secure a good spot), music and performances on the Trafalgar Square stage from 12pm-6pm

- A second stage on Shaftesbury Avenue hosts performances from a range of local community groups and schools, also from 12pm – 6pm

- Meanwhile Chinatown plays host to a parade by Lion dancers as well as a range of stalls selling traditional produce throughout the day.

where to watch chinese new year london 2015
lucky charms for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year dates are determined by the luni-solar Chinese calendar, which means the date changes every year. This year; 2015 Chinese New Year falls on 19 February, with festivities and celebrations on Sunday 22nd February 2015.

For further information closer to the time, please check their website:

Please be aware that pickpockets and criminals operate in large crowds at these events, please keep your personal belogings safe.

Nearest tube stations: Charing Cross – TfL & National Rail; Leicester Square – TfL

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Kung Hei Fat Choi

Happy New Year! To all our Chinese citizens, residents and visitors, 3 Days in London wishes you a happy and auspicious new year.

where to watch chinese new year london 2015

The next cycle of the Chinese New Year starts on 19 February 2015; the Year of the Sheep or Goat.

chinese new year
Chinese New Year 2015

There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac calendar and the Goat comes 8th .  According to Chinese astrology, each year (starting from Chinese New Year) is associated with an animal sign, occurring in a 12-year cycle; the animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

2015 is a year of the Goat.

Each year central London plays host to the Chinese New Year events that take place in Soho, China Town and Trafalgar Square with parades, dragon dancing, fire-crackers, food and lots of colourful costumes, noise and fun!

Be sure to join in the fun in London on 22 February 2015

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If your’e in London for this event be sure to tag your photos @3daysonlondon on instagram and share the fun! Have a great time




‘Flipping’ Fun on Pancake Day 17 Feb 2015

It’s Shrove Tuesday on the 17th February and that means just one thing……PANCAKES!!! :)

Pancake day venues london
Pancake Day

As usual there are a number of events around London that you can head over to watch …they’re always good fun.  All these events are FREE to watch.

Better Bankside Pancake Day Race

Date: 17 February 2015 – Time: The races will start at 12:30pm and finish at around 2.00pm

Location: The races will be held in Borough Market’s Jubilee Place just off Winchester Walk.

There will be pancakes. There will be music. There will be food from the one of the world’s best markets. There will be fun. There will be one winning team.

Event website:

Nearest tube: Southwark

Flipping Marvellous Pancake Race

Date: 17/02/15 – Time: 12:30 – 14:00

Location: The Scoop at More London, Queen Elizabeth Walk. 

Event website:

Nearest tube: London Bridge

pancake day london
the 2013 Pancake Day Races at Guildhall

Inter-Livery Pancake Races in Guildhall Yard (organised by the Poulters’ Company) 

Date: 17 February 2015 – Time: 11am-2pm

Location: Guildhall Yard, Gresham Street, City of London EC2V 7HH

See Masters (or their substitutes) compete to run from one end of Guildhall Yard to the other and back again – tossing their pancakes at fixed points…. without dropping them!

pancake day london
the 2013 Pancake Day Races at Guildhall

Event website:

Nearest tube: Bank

2014 Pancake Day at Leadenhall Market
2014 Pancake Day at Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market Pancake Races

Date: 17 February 2015 – Time: 12noon – 2pm

Another year of the famous Leadenhall Market Pancake Race! Teams of 4 will battle in out in a fantastic display of coordination and speed. Flipping a pancake filled fry pan up and down the market fastest!

Event Website:

Nearest tube: Bank

The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race 2015

Date: 17 February 2015 – Time: 12:30pm

Location: Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane,Whitechapel, London E1 6QL 

Teams of four, pan in hand, race along Dray Walk on Brick Lane while tossing their pancakes.

Event website:

Nearest tube: Liverpool Street

westminster pancake day
Pancake Day at Westminster – racing for Rehab 2014

Parliamentary Pancake Races

Date: 17 February 2015 – Time: 10am-12noon approximately

Location: Victoria Tower Gardens, Millbank, Westminster, SW1P 3JA

Watch MPs, Lords and members of the press flipping crepes for charity.

westminster pancake day 2014
Pancake Day at Westminster – racing for Rehab 2014

I went to watch this last year. It’s free to watch and usually thronged with professional and amateur photographers eager to capture the honourable members flipping pancakes while wearing silly hats.

Event website:

Nearest Tube: Westminster

Plan your journey

Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent. Traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, fats and eggs, it’s commonly known as Pancake Day because it represents a good opportunity to use such ingredients ahead of the fasting period.

Pancake Day takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday. Because the date of Easter Sunday is dictated by the cycles of the moon, Pancake Day can occur anytime between February 3 and March 9.  The date for 2015 is February 17th.

Have a great time if you go. Be sure to tag me in your photos on instagram 

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Happy 500th Birthday Hampton Court Palace

Yes, it’s the 500th birthday of Hampton Court Palace; for such an old lady she’s looking mighty fine.

hampton court palace
Hampton Court Palace – Happy 500th Birthday

Hampton Court Palace really is a tale of two palaces; both the Tudor Palace and the younger Baroque Palace. But today’s celebration is of course about Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s Tudor Palace.

Building at the palace began on 12 February 1515.  Sadly, Cardinal Wolsey fell out with Henry VIII at some stage (see Wolf Hall) and Henry acquired the palace for himself (as kings do!) and the palace has since become synonymous with the story of Henry VIII.

hampton court palace
ask Henry VIII – he would know!!

We have seen something of Hampton Court and Henry VIII recently on the BBC2’s programme Wolf Hall (which if you haven’t seen it yet, is extraordinary – do watch it on iPlayer catch-up if you can).   I can remember the first time I visited Hampton Court Palace back in 2003. My sister and her husband had popped over to London from Dublin for a short visit.

hampton court palace
The Main Gates at the entrance

High on the agenda had to be a day at the mighty Tudor Palace. I can still recall the emotion I felt when walking through that gate for the first time; overawed!

We stopped to admire the ten statues of heraldic animals, called the ‘King’s Beasts’, standing on the bridge over the moat that leads to the great gatehouse.

These statues represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. Strolling through the Great Gate House is a quite surreal feeling, knowing that kings and queens too have walked (or ridden) through those very gates.

hampton court palace
The ceiling of the Great Gate House

The magnificent Tudor building, although just a shadow of it’s former glory, what remains today is surely one of the greatest treasures of the United Kingdom; aeons old – stately, majestic, imperial, amazing, extraordinary and that’s just the outside! Step through the Great Gate House; step into a world gone by.

A fountain in the Great Court
A fountain in the Great Court

Overawed by the splendour and history, we meandered here, there and everywhere; wandered about up amazingly decorated staircases

hampton court palace
The King’s Staircase – Baroque Palace

through rooms beautifully decorated, gasped at ceilings exquisitely painted with scenes of heaven and royalty,

exquisite painted ceilings
exquisite painted ceilings

admired intricately woven tapestries hung when Henry lived here

stepped quietly along corridors once walked by Henry VIII and his many wives,

a glimpse of the Chapel Royal leaves you breathless with wonder at the sheer beauty.

hampton court palace
at the entrance to the Chapel Royal

We explored corridors, guard rooms, bedrooms, the kitchen,

hampton court palace
The Tudor Kitchen still used today

the wine cellars, the great hall and wondered at the story of how a young, by all accounts personable, romantic young king, came to be a monstrous tyrant who thought nothing of having his once beloved wife’s head chopped off!  Amongst others!

Sadly, at the time we visited we were not allowed to take photos of the interiors but I still remember our sheer awe of the surroundings.

Since that day, things have changed and I have since visited hundreds of times (okay, maybe dozens) and I think I have probably photographed just about every room, staircase and passageway that we have access to, plus a few we don’t normally have access to!

In 1989 the organisation known as Historic Royal Palaces was established, this brought together Hampton Court Palace as well as Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Banqueting House, all of which are owned by The Queen ‘in right of Crown'; meaning that Her Majesty holds the palaces in Trust for the next monarch and by law cannot sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any interest in the palaces. A recent acquisition in 2014, brought Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland into the HRP stables.

From their website: “On 1 April 1998, Historic Royal Palaces became an independent charity by Royal Charter with a Board of Trustees, receiving no funding from Government or the Crown. Historic Royal Palaces Enterprises Ltd was set up to manage all of the organisation’s trading activities. Most of the contents of the palaces form part of the Royal Collection and are also owned by The Queen in right of Crown. The Director of the Royal Collection and the Keeper of the Privy Purse from the Royal Household sit as Trustees on the Board of Historic Royal Palaces”.

The palaces have truly come alive in the last few years. Today and on just about any day of the week you could bump into Henry VIII or one of his wives walking about the grounds of the great palace,

watch an emmissary from France petition the King in the Great Hall;

hampton court palace
The Great Hall leading to the Great Watching chamber

a room spanned by a large and sumptuously decorated hammer-beam roof – listen to a debate between courtiers,

admire the great tapestries and overhear the whispers of Ladies in Waiting in the Great Watching Chamber,

hampton court palace
The Great Watching Chamber

you may even get to see a ghost or two slip quietly along the corridors!

In the Buttery, at the start of Henry VIII’s Apartments just before the Great Hall, you will be able to see a film featuring all six of Henry’s wives as well as photo portraits of each wife and learn more about their lives… and their eventual fates.

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

There are a number of re-enactments held every year to celebrate a historical milestone, or extravagant pageants to celebrate one anniversary or another; meet the likes of George I and his wayward son Frederick, admire the ladies of the court as they waft from here to there, spy a Courtier come to deliver news to the King,

A newly arrived Courtier
A newly arrived Courtier

visit the newly restored Kitchen Gardens or listen to Handel in the gardens while you watch fireworks.

Visit the Tilt Yard where Henry VIII once jousted,

take a peek at the Tennis Courts where as a virile young man he challenged all.

Be sure to have a look at the Great Vine – planted in 1768 by the celebrated gardener ‘Capability’ Brown, the the world’s largest productive vine,

wander through the Privy Gardens to the riverside walk of the Baroque Palace…a lot younger and way more different to the Tudor Palace, but just as lovely, especially when viewed from the middle of the Privy Garden.

The Privy Gardens
The Privy Gardens

And while exploring gardens on the East Front why not take a ride around the gardens on the Shire Horse Tram.

hampton court palace
The Shire Horses Tram

There are so many amazing nooks and crannies, apartments and rooms to explore that you surely need a whole day to see it all.

There is so much history in Hampton Court Palace that you would need a lifetime to learn it all.

hampton court palace
Henry VIII and his 3 children

Learn just a bit with a visit to this truly magnificent palace, a visit that will leave you overwhelmed, a visit you would never forget. It certainly ranks on my list of Top 30 London Attractions!

So once again Happy 500th Birthday to Hampton Court Palace, long may you continue to charm, amaze, and overwhelm us all with your extraordinary stories and secrets.

hampton court palace
Hampton Court Palace – 500 years

Hampton Court Palace; a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has not been lived in by the British royal family since the 18th century. Originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514. After Wolsey fell from favour in 1529, he gave the palace to the King, who enlarged it. Wolsey died a couple of years later. Along with St. James’s Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by Henry VIII.

hampton court palace
Henry VIII’s family tree

Hampton Court Palace follows seasonal times; is open from Monday to Sunday in summer from 10am – 6pm (please check their website for other times)

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
For more information about Hampton Court Palace please visit their website

Nearest station: Hampton Court from Waterloo Station in London
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