Lantern Festival UK 2021: What's happening near me?

THE Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Apart from being synonymous with Chinese Valentine's Day, it is also a day when big family gatherings are held, to tuck into plenty of good food.

What is the Lantern Festival?

Lanterns play a big role on the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

These typically last 15 days – with the final event also known as The Lantern Festival or Spring Lantern Festival.

Every February, the Chinese observe the Lantern Festival, or Chap Goh Mei – the Hokkien term for the 15th night of the New Year.

This day marks the end of the Chinese New Year when lanterns are lit and hung, and people watch dragon dances in the street.

In 2021 it is being celebrated today, Friday February 26.

The day is also known as Yuan Xiao Jie, and is an important festival signifying the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

How can I celebrate the Lantern Festival 2021?

For more than 2,000 years, "by imperial decree", temples, homes and palaces across China have hung brightly-lit lanterns on the 15th night of the year’s 1st lunar month, explains Chinese American Family (CAF).

The Lantern Festival is always a feast for the eyes, from incredible firework displays to beautiful colourful dragons, and hundreds of lanterns.

Normally there would be street festivals and lantern-themed exhibitions. But with coronavirus still plaguing the world, the festival is being celebrated in toned-down ways.

People also enjoy making and eating glutinous rice balls known as tang yuan, the Lantern’s Festival’s iconic food.

"These round balls, most commonly filled with sweet sesame or red bean paste, resemble the shape of the full moon and symbolise family togetherness and happiness," says CAF.

With the UK still in the grips of the Covid pandemic, you can get involved with some arts and crafts by DIY-ing your own decorations.

But, please don't release any lanterns into the sky, as they present a huge danger to animals.

The RSPCA warns that paper lanterns aren't safe for animals and the environment as when ingested, sharp parts like the wire frame can tear and puncture an animal's throat or stomach causing internal bleeding.

Animals can also become entangled in fallen lantern frames, where they can suffer from injury and stress trying to get free or starve to death from being trapped.

Marine life is also endangered by lanterns falling into the sea.

What's happening near me?

Unfortunately, because of the Covid lockdown restrictions, the UK's annual Lantern Festival street celebrations have been cancelled.

The Chinese Society is hosting an online Lantern Festival Concert from 4-6pm today, February 26, at Birmingham City University.

And in London, online exhibitions, performances, screenings, comedy can be seen during the Chinese Arts Now 2021 Festival, running from February 15 to April 30.

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