It's Chinese New Year – time to welcome the Monkey
Whether you're in London or St Andrew's, there are loads of ways to celebrate across the country
Chinese New Year falls on Mon 8 Feb this year, as the Year of the Sheep gives way to the Year of the Monkey. If you plan to celebrate it at home, bear in mind that a strictly traditional Chinese New Year celebration is supposed to take 15 days, and each day has its own special observances and foods. If you plan to pay a visit to your local Asian supermarket and stock up, do it now, because many businesses will close for the holiday itself and for up to several days afterwards. (It's worth it, though: among the more recent New Year traditions is the consumption of the delicious-sounding Yusheng, a salad of raw fish, shredded vegetables, crushed peanuts, crackers, spices and citrus, garnished with plum sauce and sesame oil. We'd eat that all year round.) By the same token, if you're planning to eat out during the holiday period, phone ahead to make sure that your chosen restaurant is open for business.
What does the Chinese Zodiac say 2016 has in store for us? It depends a lot on your own sign, but 2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey, a creature typically described as a 'convincing talker', 'ambitious', 'flamboyant', 'competitive', 'aggressive', 'over-confident', lacking in patience and potentially destructive. Sounds like Donald Trump, but he should take no comfort from his horoscope: he's actually a Fire Dog, and the Zodiac says that if he gets into an 'argument, dispute or lawsuit' in a year of the Monkey, both parties will be the loser. (However, the Fire Dog is associated with bravery, idealism and 'champion[ing] the cause of the forgotten and downtrodden', so you do wonder where the Zodiac is getting some of this stuff.)
Here are some Chinese New Year celebrations which can be predicted with more confidence than any election result:
Glasgow – Chinese New Year Celebrations
Fortify yourself with something to eat at one of Glasgow's many fine Chinese restaurants: Amber Regent offers traditional cuisine; Dumpling Monkey is optimised for dumpling-lovers in a hurry, while Sichuan House specialises in the hot and spicy food of the region, and that's just three of them. Then, get yourself down to George Square for some dragon dancing, lion dancing, martial arts displays and more.
Sun 7 Feb, noon, George Square, Glasgow, outdoor events are free.
St Andrews – Chinese New Year Gala
The China Central Television New Year Gala, which has an annual viewership of around 700 million, is a strong candidate for the most-watched TV programme in the world. First broadcast in 1983, it's a variety show with music, comedy sketches, opera and dance and, bar a notorious snafu in 2007, it's a beloved national institution. You could try and find it on the China Network Television website, or alternatively, the Byre Theatre is presenting its own live New Year Gala variety show, performed by students and locals. Candy will be available.
Wed 10 Feb, from 7pm, Byre Theatre, St Andrews, £8
Newcastle upon Tyne – A Chinese New Year Celebration
Members of the Chinese Scholars and Students' Association present traditional arts, including calligraphy demonstrations.
Wed 3 Feb, from 7pm, Newcastle City Hall, £5
London – London's Chinese New Year
The outdoor celebrations kick off at 10am with a parade, and from noon in Trafalgar Square there are music, dance, acrobatics, martial arts performances and other things with which to welcome the Monkey.
Sun 14 Feb, from 10am, Trafalgar Square, free.
Manchester – Chinese New Year
Manchester does things in style, with four days of celebrations including a light show, food markets, shopping events, a stadium tour of Manchester City FC in Mandarin, live music, a parkour demonstration and much else.
Thu 4--Sun 7 Feb, various venues, Manchester, prices vary.
Find out more about Chinese New Year events across the UK.