Few options for Chinese New Year festivities in Tower Hamlets after museum funding cuts

People celebrating Chinese New Year last night struggled to find events going on in Tower Hamlets, particularly after budget cuts to the Museum of Docklands.

The museum in West India Quay normally holds a massive Chinese New Year celebration attended by over a thousand people but general cuts to its budget meant no party could be held this year.

It left co-organisers at the Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets, based in Commercial Road, disappointed.

They couldn’t provide the security, funding and the venue needed to put on the event themselves.

Previous New Year festivities at the museum have been all-day events with food for guests and variety shows and Association member Alan Chau said people would come from all over London to attend.

He said the event normally costs around �10,000, with the museum contributing around half of that amount.

The Association held their own smaller-scale party at the Lotus Chinese Floating Restaurant in Crossharbour on Tuesday night.

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Most people would head to Chinatown in Soho to celebrate the start of the Year of the Rabbit instead, according to Mr Chau.

He said: “We do still have things going on but it’s nothing like before.

“We have an excellent working relationship with the museum and I am very hopeful that we will be able to hold the event again in the future.

“Unfortunately because of budget cuts to the museum, we cannot hold our celebrations this year.”

Frazer Swift, the museum’s head of learning, said: “Sadly, due to limited resources in the current economic climate, we had to reduce the number of Chinese New Year events at the museum this year and so were unable to work in collaboration with the Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets, as we have so successfully in the past.

“We are still committed to marking Chinese New Year at the museum and hope to be able to organise a more substantial programme in coming years.”

The museum is holding a number of smaller events including walks in the old Chinatown in Limehouse this weekend as well as Chinese watercolour, painting and calligraphy sessions.

There is also a hunt in the museum until February 18 to find an ornamental rabbit with the winner getting a �50 Chinese meal at the Royal China restaurant in Westferry Circus.