The streets of London's Soho district came alive with colour and music on Sunday (4 February) when thousands of Chinese celebrated their New Year.
GV PAN Traffic around Piccadilly Circus
GV Crowds in Soho street with banners across road (2 shots)
TCV PAN FROM Decorated street & crowds to Chinese band & lion dance
Cu Chinese people watching
SV Lion dancing (2 shots)
SV Money lowered on cord from window (2 shots)
CU Lion taking the money (2 shots)
SV Chinese people throwing rice from window
Sv Police struggling with crowd
TV Lion continues dancing
TV PAN Crowded street
Initials ESP/2102 ESP/2139
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The streets of London's Soho district came alive with colour and music on Sunday (4 February) when thousands of Chinese celebrated their New Year.
It was the end of the "year of the Rat" and the beginning of the "year of the Ox" for the people of London's Chinatown.
Lanterns and banners decorated the streets crowded with celebrating Chinese. In their midst, the traditional Chinese "lion" danced its way from restaurant to restaurant. A visit from the "lion" is regarded as good luck, and, being a vegetarian, it is lured with bundles of lettuce and pound notes tied to lengths of cord.
London's Chinatown is centred in Gerrard Street, where the first Chinese moved in 1926. In the past five years, at least 50,000 Chinese - most of them from Hongkong - have made their homes in Britain.
But this year's festival has become more than just a New Year celebration. It is also an exercise in solidarity, and an attempt to unit the community in the face of a threat to its survival.
The Chinatown area, which is regarded as the major shopping centre for all Chinese in Europe, has become vulnerable to redevelopment plans now being considered for nearby Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden.
But despite the feeling of unease in the Chinese community, the people were determined to give the Year of the OX a festive opening in their traditional way.
SYNOPSIS: Piccadilly Circus, in the heart of London.... and the beginning of the area of Soho, known around the world for its cosmopolitan population. On Sunday, it was the scene of a special celebration when Britain's Chinese population held its New Year festivities. It was the end of the Year of the Rat and the start of the Year of the Ox.... and the streets were packed with celebrating Chinese. In their midst, the traditional Chinese Lion Dance.
Dancing its way from restaurant to restaurant, the lion carried its symbolic good luck to all Chinese who lured it to their doors. Amid colourful lanterns and gay banners, the people followed the lion on its festive dance.
It is a vegetarian lion and by tradition can be encouraged to spread its good luck with offerings of lettuce and money, lowered from upstairs windows on lengths of cord.
But amid the music and gay festivities, there is a feeling of unease in the streets of London's Chinatown, first settled by Chinese in nineteen-twenty-six. It has become vulnerable to redevelopment plans now being considered for nearby Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. So this year's celebration has been more than New Year festivities. It has also been an attempt to unite the community in the face of a threat to its survival.