The Lunar New Year is being celebrated around the world on Sunday to mark the start of the year of the snake.

Also known as the Spring Festival, it is the most important holiday of the year in much of Asia.

In China an estimated 200m people make the journey home to spend time with their families. It is thought to be the biggest mass human migration on earth, reports the BBC.

chinese new year

Three divers perform horse- riding dance during the special program for celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year at Beijing Aquarium

So many fireworks are let off in Beijing during the celebrations that authorities this year were forced to appeal for a limit so as not to contribute further to already toxically high levels of air pollution.

Chinese new year falls on the first day of the lunar calendar and lasts for 15 days.

According to mythology, firecrackers and red lanterns are believed to ward off evil spirits.

Thousands of people braved the rain to pack into Trafalgar Square in central London today to celebrate.

Music, dancing and fireworks displays kept up the crowd's spirits as they saw in the Year of the Snake.

Performers from China and the UK wore intricate and colourful costumes as they paraded through the streets of China Town, before dignitaries took part in a traditional Dragon Eyes Dotting Ceremony on the Trafalgar Square stage.

The hardy revellers were then treated to a dramatic Flying Lion Dance in front of the iconic facade of the National Gallery.

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  • Chinese New Year celebrations

    Performers during a parade in central London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Chinese New Year celebrations

    Performers during a parade in central London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Chinese New Year celebrations

    Performers during a parade in central London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Chinese New Year celebrations

    Performers during a parade in central London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Chinese New Year celebrations

    Performers during a parade in central London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Chinese New Year celebrations

    Performers during a parade in central London to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    The Beijing skyline rises behind people watching performers taking part in a traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony during lunar new year festivities at the temple of Heaven in Beijing on February 10, 2013. A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks and ceremonies to kick off a week of festivities. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers take part in a traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good fortune, during lunar new year festivities at the temple of Heaven in Beijing on February 10, 2013. A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks and ceremonies to kick off a week of festivities. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers take part in a traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good fortune, during lunar new year festivities at the temple of Heaven in Beijing on February 10, 2013. A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks and ceremonies to kick off a week of festivities. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers take part in a traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good fortune, during lunar new year festivities at the temple of Heaven in Beijing on February 10, 2013. A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks and ceremonies to kick off a week of festivities. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers take part in a traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good fortune, during lunar new year festivities at the temple of Heaven in Beijing on February 10, 2013. A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks and ceremonies to kick off a week of festivities. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 10: A diver performs the dragon dance during the special program for celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year at Beijing Aquarium on February 10, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    A man takes photos of fireworks on a street in Beijing on February 10, 2013. Revellers across the city lit fireworks as China welcomed the lunar new year of the snake. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    A man runs with fire crackers on a street in Beijing on February 10, 2013. Revellers across the city lit fireworks as China welcomed the lunar new year of the snake. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Fireworks illuminate the skyline to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake and cause severe air pollution on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: A general view of severe air pollution after fireworks illuminating the skyline to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Fireworks illuminate the skyline to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake and cause severe air pollution on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Fireworks illuminate the skyline to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake and cause severe air pollution on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Fireworks illuminate the skyline to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake and cause severe air pollution on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Chinese paramilitary police officers dressed as Qing Dynasty servants march before a re-enactment of an ancient ceremony of Qing Dynasty emperors praying for good harvest and fortune during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    A man shields a boy from fireworks on a street in Beijing on February 9, 2013. Revellers across the city lit fireworks as China welcomed the lunar new year of the snake. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: A Chinese paramilitary police officer dressed as a Qing Dynasty servant before a re-enactment of an ancient ceremony of Qing Dynasty emperors praying for good harvest and fortune during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Chinese paramilitary police officers dressed as Qing Dynasty servants before a re-enactment of an ancient ceremony of Qing Dynasty emperors praying for good harvest and fortune during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Chinese folk artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at Dragon Lake Park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China.The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Chinese folk artists prepare to perform during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at Dragon Lake Park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China.The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: Chinese folk artists prepare to perform during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at Dragon Lake Park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China.The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

  • China's Spring Festival

    BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: A woman and a child pose for photo next to a snake sculpture at the Spring Festival Temple Fair for celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake at the Temple of Earth park on February 9, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Snake also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

  • THAILAND-LUNAR-NEWYEAR

    Thai-Chinese residents celebrate the Chinese New Year in Bangkok's China town on February 10, 2013. Chinese communities worldwide are welcoming the ' Year of the Snake '. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • THAILAND-LUNAR-NEWYEAR

    Thai-Chinese dancers perform a lion dance as they celebrate the Chinese New Year in Bangkok's China town on February 10, 2013. Chinese communities worldwide are welcoming the ' Year of the Snake '. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • THAILAND-LUNAR-NEWYEAR

    Thai-Chinese residents celebrate the Chinese New Year in Bangkok's China town on February 10, 2013. Chinese communities worldwide are welcoming the ' Year of the Snake '. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • THAILAND-LUNAR-NEWYEAR

    A Thai-Chinese man dressed as a God of Fortune, parades to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Bangkok's China town on February 10, 2013. Chinese communities worldwide are welcoming the ' Year of the Snake '. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • THAILAND-LUNAR-NEWYEAR

    Thai-Chinese residents celebrate the Chinese New Year in Bangkok's China town on February 10, 2013. Chinese communities worldwide are welcoming the ' Year of the Snake '. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • THAILAND-LUNAR-NEWYEAR

    Thai and foreign tourists walk under multi-colour of Chinese lanterns on display for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year at a shopping mall in Bangkok on February 7, 2013. The Chinese New Year of the Snake falls on February 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    An ethnic Chinese boy poses for a picture next to a snake statue ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations at the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Ethnic Chinese arrive at Thean Hou Temple decorated with the red lanterns for worship ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR- NEW YEAR

    An ethnic Chinese girl takes pictures of a snake statue ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations at the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Ethnic Chinese worship at Thean Hou Temple ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR- NEW YEAR

    An ethnic Chinese worships ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations at the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR- NEW YEAR

    Ethnic Chinese arrive at the Thean Hou Temple decorated with the red lanterns for worship ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MALAYSIA-LUNAR- NEW YEAR

    An ethnic Chinese woman takes pictures of the red lanterns ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations at the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur on February 9, 2013. Chinese New Year which is also known as Lunar Year falls on February 10. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers dressed as mermaids wearing Chinese cheongsam perform in an underwater show at Jakarta's Ancol theme park on February 10, 2013 in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers dressed as mermaids wearing Chinese cheongsam perform in an underwater show at Jakarta's Ancol theme park on February 10, 2013 in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers dressed as mermaids wearing Chinese cheongsam perform in an underwater show at Jakarta's Ancol theme park on February 10, 2013 in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-CHINA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    Performers dressed as mermaids wearing Chinese cheongsam perform in an underwater show at Jakarta's Ancol theme park on February 10, 2013 in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indonesia Celebrates Chinese New Year

    JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 19: Indonesians of Chinese descent pray in the smoke filled Vihara Dharma Bhakti temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New year February 10, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chinese people around the world are ushering in the Year of the Snake with prayers, feasts and fireworks. (Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)

  • Indonesia Celebrates Chinese New Year

    JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 19: An Indonesian man of Chinese descent prays in the smoke filled Vihara Dharma Bhakti temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New year February 10, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chinese people around the world are ushering in the Year of the Snake with prayers, feasts and fireworks. (Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)

  • Indonesia Celebrates Chinese New Year

    JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 19: An Indonesian man of Chinese descent prays in the smoke filled Vihara Dharma Bhakti temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New year February 10, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chinese people around the world are ushering in the Year of the Snake with prayers, feasts and fireworks. (Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)

  • Indonesia Celebrates Chinese New Year

    JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 19: An Indonesian man of Chinese descent prays in the smoke filled Vihara Dharma Bhakti temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New year February 10, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chinese people around the world are ushering in the Year of the Snake with prayers, feasts and fireworks. (Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    A woman burns incense sticks before praying to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Snake at a Dharmayana temple in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on January 10, 2013. Lunar New Year is celebrated in many parts of the predominantly Islamic country of 240 million people where Chinese heritage took roots through ancient transmigration. AFP PHOTO / Sonny TUMBELAKA (Photo credit should read SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    A man prays to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Snake at a Dharmayana temple in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on January 10, 2013. Lunar New Year is celebrated in many parts of the predominantly Islamic country of 240 million people where Chinese heritage took roots through ancient transmigration. AFP PHOTO / Sonny TUMBELAKA (Photo credit should read SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDONESIA-LUNAR-NEW YEAR

    A girl burns incense sticks before praying to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Snake at a Dharmayana temple in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on January 10, 2013. Lunar New Year is celebrated in many parts of the predominantly Islamic country of 240 million people where Chinese heritage took roots through ancient transmigration. AFP PHOTO / Sonny TUMBELAKA (Photo credit should read SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)