Central London is set to be transformed on Sunday 6th February as the capital, led by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, prepares to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.

Kicking off at noon, visitors to Trafalgar Square, London Chinatown and the surrounding areas will be able to soak in the sights and sounds of a spectacular celebration - with performances from both traditional and contemporary Chinese artists, food stalls, firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

The Chinese New Year celebrations in London are the largest outside of Asia, attracting around 250,000 global visitors. The event is supported by the Mayor of London, Westminster Council, the Chinese Embassy and corporate sponsors including Cathay Pacific and the Bank of China.

This year there will be a contrast between old and new with the main stage in Trafalgar Square hosting the official opening followed by world-class dance, music and acrobatics. In contrast, Shaftesbury Avenue will become a “Hong Kong in China London Chinatown” stage, featuring performances from more contemporary acts and artists. Chinatown itself will welcome guests with cultural stalls, traditional food and lion dance displays throughout the day.

Leslie Ng, President of the London Chinatown Chinese Association said:

“New Year is one of the most important dates in the Chinese calendar but it’s also an occasion that anyone can get involved with. Our celebrations give everybody the chance to experience Chinese culture and see what Chinatown can offer - all year round. The event has grown from a small local event to welcoming around a quarter of a million people last year. Plans for 2012 are also well underway with Chinese New Year 2012 set to be the first major cultural event of the Olympic year.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:

“London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are one of the most colourful and magical events in the calendar. I am delighted to be able to support this magnificent day out, which brings people of all ages and from all walks of life onto the streets. So join the throng to celebrate the start of the Year of the Rabbit.”

Cllr Steve Summers, Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services said:

“The Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant and exciting events of the year, and it is a great occasion for visitors to sample all that Chinatown has to offer, and for the Chinese community to showcase its culture with dancing, food and entertainment. Westminster is proud of its historic association with Chinatown, which is renowned around the world, and plays a key role in ensuring the continuing popularity and success of the West End.”

Public information about Chinese New Year is available at www.londonchinatown.org or follow us on Twitter @chinatownldn