With Chinese New Year 2020 on the horizon, CrossCountry is gearing up to celebrate in style. There’s parades, parties, and events happening up and down the country this weekend – so you don’t even have to head to London to be part of the action.
Whether the extent of your interaction with the Chinese culture is the occasional takeaway or you have travelled through China extensively, there’s always more to explore, and much of it is right on your doorstep. Read on to find out where our favourite UK Chinatowns are, that are perfect to go to if you want to celebrate Chinese New Year or just enjoy a visit to - anytime of the year.
After London, Manchester is home to the largest Chinatown in the UK. The settlement of the Chinese community here dates back to the turn of the 20th century. However, the Manchester Chinatown as we know it didn’t emerge until the 1970s, with restaurants accompanied by medicinal shops, supermarkets and cultural stalls. Today you can find a plethora of Chinese eateries jostling for position with local businesses in this bustling area in the centre of Manchester.
As you nose your way through the grid-like layout of the streets, you will find plenty of architectural delights, including a famous arch that is popular with tourists from around the world. Recently restored, the archway can be found on Faulkner Street, and is the perfect spot for the Instagrammers among us to take a snap.
Of course, Chinatown in Manchester has plenty to offer those looking for a bite to eat. Happy Seasons is a customer favourite for good reason; if you’re willing to brave the often 30-minute long line, you will find an array of delicious and reasonably priced dishes. Traditionally vegetarian food is eaten over Chinese New Year, making Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen an excellent choice, with its focus on tasty but healthy foods.
Chinese Quarter, Birmingham
Birmingham is home to the delightful Chinese Quarter just a few minutes’ walk from Birmingham New Street Station. Whilst exploring its lively pedestrianised streets, you will find everything from restaurants and cafés, to Asian supermarkets, bars and bakeries. One of the best-known landmarks is a stone pagoda, and Chinese architectural flourishes have been added to many of the surrounding buildings.
Whether you’re around for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’re sure to find something in Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter. Early in the day, head to Wah Kee Bakery tucked away in the Arcadian Centre, where you can buy a selection of mouth-watering Asian pastries. These include Hong Kong-style egg tarts, delicately-filled pastries and savoury puffs filled with melt-in-the-mouth pieces of pork. You only have to head a few doors down to find the perfect spot for an evening meal. Although the steamy windows of Peach Garden and Look In might not immediately draw you in, the copper-hued ducks hanging in the window have tempted many a passing tourist. When paired with pillows of fluffy white rice – well, quite simply, there’s nothing better.
After you finish dinner, head out to one of the area’s many night clubs, karaoke bars, and comedy venues. The Glee is a particular favourite and plays host to some of the biggest names in comedy, as well as being a wonderfully intimate music venue.
Another northern favourite with an excellent Chinatown, Newcastle’s can be found just a stone’s throw from Newcastle Central Station, making it a popular choice for visitors looking to grab a bite to eat and explore before they head into the city. Stowell Street forms the backbone of the area, with other restaurants, cafés, and various businesses dotted around.
Newcastle is home to a community of around 20,000, centring on the Stowell Street area, where as well as the restaurants and supermarkets; you will find a busy Chinese Community centre. While events are held throughout the year, the highlight is the Chinese New Year celebrations, which are a riot of sound and colour.
Food is an important part of Chinese New Year celebrations, and there’s plenty of choice. Sky Chinese Cuisine is a local favourite, and those lucky enough to snag a table behind its ruby-coloured doors, will get an authentic taste of Hong Kong. Well known for the quality of their dim sum, the value for money here cannot be beaten. Landmark is another popular choice, and a completely unique one – situated in the ground floor of a parking structure, the food is far from pedestrian. Serving a delicious array of flavours and cuisines, there’s sure to be something to suit everyone’s tastes.
When booking tickets to travel to the Chinatowns in Birmingham, Newcastle or Manchester, check out our journey planner, and save on Advance tickets up to 15 minutes before departure.
Written by Julia