Thousands mark Lunar New Year in London

LONDON (REUTERS) - Tourism officials say it's the largest Lunar New Year celebration in the world outside of Asia.

London's Chinese New Year festivities attract thousands of people to shop, eat, and watch a massive parade through the West End.

Organiaers say the lion dance there, featuring a group of 10 teams, is the largest ever performed in a public parade in Europe.

They are celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Monkey, so the parade is presided over by The Monkey King.

The event attracts people from all backgrounds, who come to mark the occasion, and just enjoy the spectacle.

"This particular parade, I love it because it is very colourful. The reason I believe in the Chinese New Year, is because it is a time of new beginnings." said London resident Jude Rato.

Mr Simon White, a resident of the town of Margate, said: "I think it's the sheer size of it and the spirit it generates in the people standing around it. As you can see, people come from all over the world to see this vibrant atmosphere and it's a celebration that goes on for the entire day. The families enjoy it and the kids - they love it."

In Chinese culture, the colour red symboliaes good fortune and joy, qualities that were both on vivid display at the parade.