EnglandAfter all the ups and downs last year of the unpredictable Tiger, the Chinese calendar welcomes the Year of the Rabbit on Thursday as Chinese year 4709 officially begins. The rabbit is considered an animal with a serene, home- loving nature, indicating that this year should be more settled than the last one.

In London, events focusing on Chinese culture have begun, but the most colorful parties take place Sunday in Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Chinatown. Dances, including Chinese dragons, lions and acrobats; cultural music; food and arts are all on the program, which ends with a fireworks display on Leicester Square.

All events are free. Other major cities with large celebrations include Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle. To learn more, go to

FranceParis has several Chinese neighborhoods, but its main Chinatown is in the Left Bank’s 13th arrondissement, including the Place d’Italie and bordered by the Avenue d’Ivry and Boulevard Masséna. Cultural events are under way, with two lion-and-dragon parades to honor the Year of the Rabbit still to come. The first, on Sunday, begins at 3 p.m. at the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in the 1st arrondisse- ment’s Marais district. The second, on Feb. 13, takes off at 1:30 p.m. from 44 Avenue d’Ivry. For more information, in English, see

IrelandAlthough Dublin doesn’t have as large a Chinese population as other major cities, the area around Parnell Street with a number of Chinese restaurants is considered the capital’s Chinatown. A series of cultural events focusing on Chinese literature and culture has already been welcoming the Rabbit. On Saturday at noon, the highlight of the events, a Chinese carnival, will liven up Wolfe Tone Park. It will feature food and crafts, dragon dances, music and dance and martial-arts displays. Find details at

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