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About Chinatown

Chinatown is the unofficial name for the area centred around Gerrard Street, just below Soho in the three blocks between Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue. Although the tiny ghetto is home to few of London’s 60,000 Chinese population, the area is primarily commercial and remains a focal point for the Chinese community with a number of Chinese restaurants, Chinese supermarkets and souvenir shops.

During times of Chinese festivity such as the Chinese New Year, the streets are lavishly decorated with flags and lanterns and thousands of Chinese take to the streets amidst dragon and lion dances and loud firecrackers.

Unlike the western calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year (the current Year of the Rooster runs from 9th February 2005 to 26th January 2006), and the New Year festivities, which have taken place in London since 1973, occur on the nearest Sunday to Chinese New Year’s Day.

For the rest of the year, the main attraction for Londoners and tourists is the abundance of Chinese restaurants - Chinatown has some of the best and some of the worst in London. A useful tip is that you can suss out the best restaurants by looking for where the Chinese eat, especially during Dim Sum hours at lunchtime.

Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo or Piccadilly)

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