Chinese New Year in Edinburgh 2023: where is lion and dragon dance, when does it start, what else is going on?

Usher in the Lunar New Year with the biggest celebrations in Scotland

Chinese New Year will soon be here this weekend (22 January), a celebration which is known for its spectacular processions, delicious food and fireworks displays.

The holiday essentially combines Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Valentine’s Day into one huge celebration that lasts for more than two weeks, and the modern-day Chinese New Year has developed into an internationally celebrated event.

In the UK, lion dances, fireworks and other customary festivities will mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year, including in Edinburgh, where the biggest Chinese New Year festival held in Scotland takes place.

This year’s programme will include a combination of online and offline activities, promotions and outdoor celebrations. Here is everything you need to know about it.

Where can I see a lion dance?

There will be numerous lion dances - a traditional type of dance in Chinese culture and other Asian nations used to bring prosperity and success - taking place throughout the city.

One of the most significant lion dances will take place at The Mound, where there will be a cultural and artistic display with a focus on traditional celebrations, including lion dances, Chinese New Year folk dances, Han costume shows, red envelope games, and a Ceilidh (Sunday 22 January from 12.30pm).

St James Quarter will also be hosting an array of events, including captivating, traditional Lion Dance performances (Saturday 21 January from 12pm).

What else is happening?

Another highlight of Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year celebrations is the light show at Edinburgh Castle, where this year, a stunning light spectacle honouring the Year of the Rabbit will take place. Projections will be beamed onto the castle itself, while live performances and music provide the soundtrack (22 and 23 January 6 - 9pm).

Then there’s the official Chinese New Year concert at Usher Hall, where the Royal Scottish National Orchestra will perform a ground-breaking fusion of Scottish and Chinese music and song with a number of distinguished guests (21 January from 7.30pm).

There’s also a new pop-up exhibition in Edinburgh Central Library, inspired by the current British Library Exhibition, which examines the relationships between British and Chinese communities and cultures. In addition to literary works and other unique artefacts from the Library’s collection, the exhibit includes artwork by Sarah Kwan, a Chinese artist who was born in Britain (from 16 January to March).