Welcome in the Year of the Rooster

Celebrate the Chinese New Year this January with hundreds of thousands of revellers in and around Chinatown and Trafalgar Square. These colourful celebrations – the largest of their kind outside Asia – are infectiously loud and lively. Super-agile dragons lead a mesmerising parade. Everything from traditional dance troupes and acrobats, to opera and martial arts will blow your mind whenever you (mistakenly) think things are about to wind down. A spectacular fireworks show rounds the night off perfectly. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Step back in time at the Thames

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Totally Thames © camclem2805

There are few sights more breathtaking than a fleet of 40 majestic ships holding court on the River Thames. This is but a part of the Tall Ships Regatta, an annual four-day event of festivities over the Easter weekend that includes maritime displays, themed activities in both Woolwich and Greenwich town centres, and a dazzling riverside fireworks display. The undoubtable highlight is the incredible Parade of Sail. Tall Ships are joined by smaller vessels to create an awe-inspiring re-enactment of how the Thames might have looked in its imperial heyday.

Spend a night at a museum

Visiting London’s world-renowned museums is always a treat. Still, there’s something about viewing these havens of culture at night that makes the experience even more tantalising. In addition to providing that illicit lock-in’ sensation, the biannual Museums at Night event gives you the chance to discover new exhibitions. You’ll see expert presentations, watch special performances, take torch-lit tours and listen to live music. Keep mid-May free in your diary if this sounds right up your street.

Place a bet on a goat

Goat Race
Oxford vs Cambridge Goat Race © thesalmon86

Forget about paddling on the Thames, the heated rivalry of the Oxford vs Cambridge Goat Race pits two rather grumpy pygmy goats (one called Oxford, the other Cambridge) against each other. Watch the 200m dash around the spectator-packed course to see who’ll take bragging rights and win the magnificent edible vegetable trophy. Naturally, there’s an official bookie and sweepstake on-site, as well as plenty of booze, bands and food. The event takes place in Shoreditch towards the end of March and usually costs around £13 per person.

Don some tweed and joust with umbrellas

Ever wondered what it would be like to see plummy Victorian chaps and chapesses compete in a series of Monty Python-esque races devised by Mr Bean? Well, wonder no more, just visit the Chap Olympiad celebration in Bloomsbury. This event delivers bundles of British buffoonery with competitions like Umbrella Jousting (where bicycles and umbrellas fill in for horses and lances) and the Tug of Hair (where a rope is replaced by a lengthy handlebar moustache). Don some tweed and you can even have go yourself. Toodle pip!

Have a sing-a-long with West End stars

It’s fair to say free summer shows don’t come much better than the annual West End LIVE in Trafalgar Square. Every year, the cast of some of the West End’s leading musicals and up-and-coming shows take to the stage in front of thousands of lip-syncing spectators to showcase their talent and lead what is arguably the greatest sing-a-long of the year. Needless to say, this free event is hugely popular so you’ll need to get there early to secure a spot.

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