The 10 best places to celebrate Chinese New Year

The Year of the Dog arrives with the pop of firecrackers and fireworks on February 16. Melbourne and Sydney aside, here are the best places on the planet for a happy Chinese New Year.

1. LONDON

A parade of floats and dancing lions in Chinatown (chinatown.co.uk), marital arts demonstrations along Shaftesbury Avenue and stage performances, food stalls and fireworks in Trafalgar Square are part of celebrations across the West End. Leicester Square sees family-friendly entertainment in which kids can try calligraphy and dress in imperial costumes. Packed Chinatown restaurants roll out special banquet menus. Bars celebrate Baiju Cocktail Week (baijiucocktailweek.co.uk) by using China's potent national spirit. See visitlondon.com

2. PARIS

Chinese New Year parade in Paris Str3-Top10-Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, French-style. Photo: Paris Tourist Office

Costumed parades featuring giant floats, dancing dragons, acrobats, firecrackers and music head down the Champs-Elysées and through Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement between Porte de Choisy and Place d'Italie. Chinatown's shopfronts and restaurants are decorated in lucky red and gold, and the Eiffel Tower is bathed in red light. Several other districts, including Aubervilliers and Belleville, host events. The best of them take place in the Marais and include dance and martial-arts performances. See parisinfo.com

3. NEW YORK

A New Year parade wanders through Chinatown (new-york-chinatown.info) and Little Italy, followed by ear-splitting noon firecrackers and a cultural festival, street party and food market. Chinatown's restaurants and karaoke bars go off. Various other districts host events too, including Brooklyn and Flushing. The New York Philharmonic (nyphil.org) runs concerts that blend classical and Chinese music, and the Museum of Chinese in America (mocanyc.org) offers special walking tours and performances. See nycgo.com

4. SAN FRANCISCO

The city hosts the largest Chinese New Year's celebration in North America, featuring two major events, the Flower Fair and the Chinatown Community Street Fair, both in Chinatown (sanfranciscochinatown.com) and involving calligraphy, kite-making and puppet shows. Events finish with a parade (chineseparade.com) that fuses Chinese-themed floats with American marching bands, presided over by a huge 29-segment dragon. The parade is unusual for taking place in the evening, and is illuminated. See sanfranciscochinatown.com

5. SINGAPORE

Chinese New Year Chingay Parade in Singapore. Str3-Top10-Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Chingay Parade, Singapore. Photo: Singapore Tourism Board

A three-week, city-wide Spring Festival is especially merry in Chinatown and at Marina Bay (riverhongbao.sg), which is lit with Zodiac-animal lanterns. It ends with the carnival-esque Chingay Parade (chingay.org.sg), featuring 3000 street performers, rock bands and dragon dancers. It claims to be Asia's largest street parade. The much-loved God of Prosperity sprinkles gold dust over the crowds, bringing fortune for the year ahead. Fireworks and a showcase of Chinese food and culture follow. See visitsingapore.com

6. YOKOHAMA

Japan's biggest Chinatown, raucous and kitschy, is always jammed with restaurant-goers (there are reputedly   more than 600 restaurants), and during Chinese New Year ratchets up another notch with lion dancing, lanterns and traditional performances such as acrobatics and martial arts. Expect plenty of noise thanks to firecrackers, cymbals and drums. Kantei-byo Shrine (yokohama-kanteibyo.com) is decorated and lantern-illuminated, and thronged with locals praying to the god of prosperity and business. See welcome.city.yokohama.jp

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7. VANCOUVER

Chinatown hosts a Spring Festival (cbavancouver.ca) culminating in the expected parade, which winds along West Pender, Gore and Keefer streets, after which lions prance through restaurants. Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (vancouverchinesegarden.com) hosts a special exhibition and fair at which you can get involved in traditional crafts. Various malls have their own events, as does Vancouver's new epicentre for Chinese immigrants, Richmond (visitrichmondbc.com), which has hundreds of Chinese restaurants. See hellobc.com

8. TAIPEI

Though there are cultural events and a giant parade of floats decorated with lanterns and mechanised heroes from Chinese legend including the god of Happiness, Taipei is really all about its festive street markets over the New Year period. Tuck into great food along Dihua Street, where locals shop for seasonal presents in an atmospheric laneway lined with houses from the Japanese colonial era. Riverside Hsintien district sees locals send red lanterns aloft. See travel.taipei

9. BEIJING

Festivals, firecrackers, fireworks and parades all feature. Temple and park fairs see dragon and lion dancing, folk performances and food stalls, and Longtan Park features sports competitions and demonstrations. The Temple of Heaven (tiantanpark.com) recreates more solemn imperial celebrations, and the Old Summer Palace has Qing-inspired entertainment. CCTV's Spring Festival Gala is said to be the most-watched TV show on Earth, with 700 million viewers. Hit Sanlitun bar district for late-night revelry. See visitbeijing.com.cn

10. HONG KONG

Lion dancing during Chinese New Year celebrations in Hong Kong Str3-Top10-Chinese New Year

Lion dancing in Hong Kong Photo: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Red lanterns hang everywhere, from shops to racetracks. Temples and street markets (particularly those selling flowers and food) are jammed and restaurants offer seafood banquets. An evening parade in Tsim Sha Tsui features international performers, costumed characters and illuminated floats. Hong Kong Disneyland (hongkongdisneyland.com) and Ocean Park (oceanpark.com.hk) both have special New Year events. But the biggest reason to visit is for the harbour fireworks, among the best fireworks displays anywhere. See discoverhongkong.com

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