LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FEBRUARY 2, 2014) (REUTERS) - Around 500,000 people celebrated Chinese New Year in London on Sunday (February 2,2014) with firecrackers ushering in the official festivities of Year of the Horse.
"Here is the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China. The evolution of Chinese New Year celebrations in Britain, reflects the deepening of China and British cultural links," Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK told the huge crowds.
2014 sees Britain celebrating 42 years of full diplomatic relations with China.
Local dignitaries took part in the Dotting of the Eye ceremony which brings the dragons and lions to life and the crowds were treated to world renowned performers, the highlight of which was the Chen Brothers' Flying Lion Dance.
London's Chinese New Year festivities attract people from all ethnicities and from all over the world.
"We wish to celebrate New Year with all the British,"said Tawee Wang, from Malaysia
"I think London has always been a city where all the multicultural people come and meet, it's always been the highlight of the city. To celebrate Chinese New Year in this manner I think is lovely," he said.
The Year of the Horse takes over from the Year Of The Snake In the Chinese zodiac calendar system which originated in the Han dynasty (206-220BC).
It names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order.
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