Official Guide to Edinburgh

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Edinburgh 2021

01 February 2021

Giant Lanterns Of China 600X250

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more reasons to celebrate, gather with your family and friends round a big table (or laptop screen!) and eat, drink and be merry we come along with a reminder that Chinese New Year is approaching. 

Read on for some great ideas for celebrating the turn of the Chinese New Year right here at home. 

Chinese New Year in Edinburgh - when is it? 

The New Year begins on Friday 12 February 2021 and festivities traditionally last for sixteen days. It’s later than the 1 January New Year because the Chinese calendar doesn’t follow the same cycle as the Gregorian one. And you probably know that each year cycle aligns with an animal on the Chinese Zodiac and this year we’re under the keen eye of the Ox. 

2021 = Year of the Ox 

 Year Of The Ox 2021 Edinburgh

In Chinese astrology, if you’re born in the Year of the Ox then you’re of strong and determined nature, so watch out any soon-to-be-parents, you’ve got some battles in front of you! 

And if being determined is one of your own personality traits - maybe you were born under the Ox? Stand up if you were born in 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 or 2009! 

How to celebrate Chinese New Year in Edinburgh 

This year, due to Covid19 guidelines, the programme will be a mix of online events, promotions, outdoor installations and walking trails.

In addition to the celebrated Official Chinese New Year Concert, Edinburgh Castle will be lighting red to mark the occasion, the Golden Monkey art installation at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will continue and will be joined by a Chinese Coo installation on the Royal Mile later in the year.

The Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication at HeriotWatt University will be hosting a series of online tutorials – everything from Tai Chi to Chinese New Year Cookery.

The official Chinese New Year Gala Concert, held annually at The Usher Hall, moves online with the Qindao Opera House Symphony Orchestra performing Soaring Dragon, Leaping Tiger, as well as performances of Chinese folk music, a Chinese children’s orchestra and Scottish piping and country dancing.  The Gala Concert will be broadcast in China and Scotland on Saturday 13 February.    

Full listings and activities can be found here 

If you're looking for some traditional ways to celebrate at home this year, here's some ideas to get you started:

Sweep away the dust

Okay, we know this doesn’t sound fun (like, at all) but Chinese New Year revellers spend weeks preparing for New Year and ‘sweeping away the dust’ is an important part of this. It represents saying goodbye to the old year, to welcome in the new.

Decorate your house 

Chinese Caves

Spend an afternoon making Chinese New Year decorations like lanterns, paper chains and fans. It’s always fun digging out the art supplies and making your living room look colourful, but the decorations serve the more important purpose of warding off evil to allow health, peace and blessings.

Enjoy a reunion dinner 

Like all great celebrations, Chinese New Year calls for feasting and the New Year’s Eve dinner is a vital part of the traditions. Host your own feast at home and hook up with your family and friends online to enjoy a reunion feast together. 

Many new year foods are symbolic, so remember to include a few lucky foods this year to maximise your chances of a happy new year! 

Fish - prosperity

Spring rolls & dumplings - wealth 

Noodles - happiness and long life

Rice balls - family togetherness 

Enjoy a stroll around a Chinese garden

49 The Ting Hero

If you’re looking to stretch your legs, and the rules allow it, then there’s no better way to enjoy peaceful Chinese culture than wandering around the Royal Botanic Gardens. 

Gardens play an essential role in Chinese culture as they’re considered a life-long source of pleasure, relaxation and learning. The Royal Botanic Gardens have over 1600 plant species collected from China and have a long standing relationship with Chinese botanical gardens in China. Enjoy some peace and tranquility in The Ting, a traditional Chinese pavilion which sits amongst the Chinese garden area. 

At the time of writing, the gardens are open by appointment only, so please check ahead before visiting.

Happy New Year to you and yours! 

Wishing you and your family a very healthy, safe, prosperous and Happy New Year from the team here at This is Edinburgh.