London’s Chinatown lies in Soho, in the three blocks between Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue. Although the tiny ghetto is home to few of London’s 60,000 Chinese population, the area remains a focal point for the Chinese community, and centres around Gerrard Street. As with most of the world’s Chinatowns, the main annual event is the Chinese New Year, when thousands of Chinese take to the streets amidst dragon and lion dances and loud firecrackers.
Unlike the western calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year (the current Year of the Rooster runs from 9th February 2005 to 26th January 2006), and the New Year festivities, which have taken place in London since 1973, occur on the nearest Sunday to Chinese New Year’s Day. For the rest of the year, the main attraction for Londoners and tourists is the abundance of highly regarded but inexpensive Oriental restaurants.