Today marks the start of Chinese New Year, and this year is the Year of the Dog! Here, we go through what Chinese New Year is all about and how you can celebrate it in Nottingham.

When is it?

This year it’s today – Friday, February 16! Unlike the traditional New Year celebrations that see the world rejoice as the calendar ticks over from December 31 to January 1, Chinese New Year follows the format of the Lunar Calendar and the exact date changes every year.

The celebrations are expected to last a whole two weeks!

What is it?

Chinese New Year is dictated by the Lunar Calendar and the exact day of Chinese New Year occurs at the New Moon. The New Moon is when the Sun and Moon are aligned, with the Sun and Earth opposite sides of the Moon meaning all three are in complete alignment. Usually, Chinese New Year’s Day falls between January 21 and February 20 and the celebrations end at the day of the Lantern Festival, 15 days later.

Chinese New Year is a massive national holiday in China, and it’s a celebration that’s not just embraced in the world’s most populous country. A number of South East Asian neighbours such as South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia all revel in their own Lunar New Year extravaganzas!

What’s with the animals?!

Many people associate the notion of Chinese New year with the Chinese Zodiac signs that represent each year in the 12-year cycle. The Zodiac signs take the form of 12 animals (well, 11 animals and a dragon) and every sign has different characteristics that are meant to be reflected in people’s personalities who were born in that year.

The animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Whilst it may appear that the selection of animals is completely random, the Zodiac animals are actually significant. Six of the animals represent the main domestic animals within Chinese culture, whilst the other six are animals adored by the Chinese people.

Alternatively, ancient Chinese legend has it that the animals included in the calendar were selected by the Jade Emperor who ordered a race and the 12 Zodiac signs were the first to finish.

Which Chinese Zodiac are you?


Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
Dog: 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958
Pig: 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959

What does it mean if you’re a Dog?

Typically, people born in a Year of the Dog are considered brave, loyal, and have a strong sense of right and wrong. However, they’re also said to have a sense of irritability and stubbornness about them.

How can you celebrate Chinese New Year in Nottingham?

Why not celebrate Chinese New Year down at the Djanogly Theatre at Lakeside Arts on Saturday, February 17. Lakeside Arts are hosting a Chinese New Year Gala that promises to offer a number of performance that ‘create a multi-layered representation of traditional Chinese culture’. Tickets can be purchased on the Lakeside Arts website with all ticket proceeds to be donated to Children’s Brain Tumour Research.

Join in the traditional lion dance in Hockley, also on Saturday, February 17! The free event will take place at the Orient Supermarket for the third consecutive year where the MaBo Lion Dance troupe will perform at noon. Crowds expected to enjoy the celebrations will be also be treated to some Fresh Asia dumplings!