An insight into the huge annual celebration. The last episode looks at what happens right after New Year, culminating in an extraordinary fireworks display in Hong Kong.
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Welcome to Hong Kong.
Tonight, we're inviting you to the world's biggest party,
as all over China,
families are getting together to celebrate Chinese new year.
Now we're overlooking Victoria Harbour -
this is one of China's largest and busiest ports.
Now, apart from the odd boat, it's fairly quiet...
-Because it's a national holiday.
-Oh, yeah, but don't be fooled. You see, later on,
literally hundreds of thousands of people will gather right here for the highlight of the festivities.
And we'll be joining them on the final leg of a journey
that has taken us to the far corners of China,
to discover how the people here celebrate this,
the most important time of their year.
It's New Year's Day, the first day of the Year Of The Monkey,
and the culmination of our journey.
For our last two shows,
we witnessed the incredible migration of people all over China,
as they travelled home for the Spring Festival.
I met families flying home in Beijing Airport.
All around me, people coming together.
It's just lovely!
And I explore the magical ice city of Harbin...
where families gather before New Year.
And I get to turn on the very last building.
And the Hairy Bikers found out what New Year's Eve in Beijing was like,
when they cooked a special reunion supper with a local family.
New Year's Eve is all about getting together with family.
But here in Hong Kong,
the days after New Year are when the people hit the streets.
And we've been right at the heart of the preparations of this spectacular party!
We'll be celebrating Chinese New Year, Hong Kong style.
I'll be finding out about the ancient art of dragon and lion dancing.
It's surprisingly heavy when you're doing it!
And I'll be enjoying some genuine Hong Kong glamour
at the spectacular New Year's night parade.
It's loud! It's noisy!
It's a carnival atmosphere!
Happy new year!
And the party doesn't stop in the rest of China.
Dave and Si are discovering what Beijingers traditionally do on New Year's Day.
-Xin nian kuai le!
-Xin nian kuai le!
Xin nian kuai le!
Xin nian kuai le!
Xin nian kuai le!
Happy Chinese New Year!
In amongst the glitzy buildings that line Victoria Harbour
are all the colonial buildings that were once the headquarters of the
British administration that ran Hong Kong.
On the 1st of July 1997, Hong Kong was formally handed back to China,
ending 156 years of British rule.
Although it shares many cultural traits with China,
as a global centre of finance and of its international history,
Hong Kong has always maintained its own unique identity.
The region of Hong Kong is on the southern coast of China,
at the Pearl River estuary.
An area composed of more than 250 islands, the urban core
of Hong Kong is Hong Kong Island in Kowloon.
"Kong" is the Chinese word for harbour,
and "Hong" means fragrant or picturesque.
And indeed, before this became the metropolis it is today,
it would have been very picturesque,
a tiny little fishing community.
Now it's an entirely different sort of picturesque.
This is one of the most recognised and photographed skylines in the world.
Hong Kong truly is a vertical city.
Because of its geography, space is at a premium,
which means it has one of the highest population densities in the world.
There are over seven million people here,
with 57,000 people per square kilometre in places.
To house them all, the city has had to build upwards.
Today, Hong Kong has over 460 skyscrapers 100 metres or taller.
London, just 49.
And its tallest is the International Commerce Centre.
You could take the Shard,
put Nelson's Column on top three times and it would still be smaller!
Hong Kong is also one of the world's most important financial trading centres,
and is home to 55 billionaires.
There are more Rolls-Royces per person in Hong Kong than any other city in the world.
Plus, last year, one local businessman bought a diamond ring for £32 million.
It was for his seven-year-old daughter.
Hong Kong has been run as a special administrative region of China,
but with its own government and law.
Unlike much of mainland China, people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese,
and are fiercely proud of their culture, language,
and especially their cuisine.
So varied is the food here that people fondly joke
the Cantonese will eat anything with four legs that isn't a table.
No other city embraces Chinese New Year celebration with such energy, enthusiasm...
Xin nian kuai le!
..and sheer expenditure as Hong Kong.
Despite its modern appearance,
Hong Kong still respects ancient customs at Chinese New Year.
Especially when it comes to food.
One very popular New Year meal is fish.
And throughout the holidays, Hong Kong's fish markets go into overdrive.
This is Aberdeen Fish Market.
It's the biggest wholesale fish market in the whole of Hong Kong,
and it's always busy, but in the run-up to New Year,
it is absolutely frantic!
The fish that's sold here will go out to hotels, restaurants,
and food markets all over the city.
Covering 15,700 square metres,
it's a place that reflects Hong Kong's international flavour...
..with catches coming from as far as afield as the USA, Ireland, and Australia.
Fish from the main market are brought to smaller markets,
like this one in Barrington Road,
and locals will come here every day to find the freshest fish
that Hong Kong has to offer.
The choice is overwhelming.
Luckily, I have a guide to take me around the market -
local chef, David Lai.
David, one thing I've noticed in Hong Kong is that there don't seem to be supermarkets anywhere, really,
that most people seem to buy their food in little street markets, like this one.
In supermarkets, it tends to be a lot of imported stuff,
but at the market, it's mostly caught locally,
and wherever in the world you go to a Chinese restaurant,
you go to Chinatown, there's always fish tank,
they always keep the fish alive as much as possible.
-For example, the fish that are swimming in the tank,
they're worth almost twice the amount of the ones that are out of the water.
Hong Kong began as a fishing village,
so I think people have gotten used to the idea that, you know,
fish should be very fresh.
I was just looking when you said how fresh it is, I'm looking,
there are literally fish hopping about in the trays.
And it's clearly a very important dish for New Year.
But why is it?
Because there seems to be a lot of belief surrounding certain foods for this time of year.
The word fish is, in Chinese, Cantonese, is Yu.
Yu, it means plentiful.
And does that then mean that, by eating fish,
the idea is that you'll have a bountiful year coming up?
That's the idea.
Fish is such an important part of the New Year festivities,
and the shoppers here are experts when it comes to the best way to prepare it.
Can you tell me how you might cook it?
Traditionally, fish should be cooked whole,
including the head and tail, to suggest completeness.
And the head should always face the elders at the table,
as a mark of respect.
Fish should always be the last dish on the menu,
and it's particularly auspicious to have a little left over at the end.
Well, as you can see,
the people of Hong Kong are absolutely spoiled when it comes to fish.
It's really easy for them to have any number of species on their table.
But there's a community in Northern China that has to go to
extraordinary lengths to catch fish, as Ant discovered.
He travelled thousands of miles north, to Chagan Lake.
It's five in the morning,
and I've come to what feels like the very ends of the Earth.
This is a way of life that's remained unchanged for centuries.
I'm travelling with a convoy of fishermen in Jilin Province,
1,800 miles northeast of Hong Kong.
This is Chagan Lake.
The temperature is an eye-watering -40 degrees.
Chagan means literally sacred, or white.
And it's certainly white.
That's because this entire lake is covered in ice,
up to a metre thick.
For locals, this is something of a sacred place,
and that's because this vast lake is the home of the bighead carp.
Bighead carp is a local delicacy that the Chinese believe,
like all fish, brings good luck for New Year.
The people here have been fishing for carp in just this way for over 1,000 years.
It's in their blood.
This group is led by Mr Jang,
an expert in tracking down shoals of bighead carp.
Finding a spot here is no easy task.
Chagan Lake is a featureless ice sheet.
I look around, all I can see is horizon.
It's 25 miles long and covers a surface of 160 square miles.
That's basically the size of Glasgow.
And what's incredible is that Mr Jang
just seems to know where to look.
There's no street signs. There's no map.
I'd need a sat nav!
They start by cutting a big hole in the ice.
The first hole is critical.
It's the entrance through which they'll eventually feed the net.
The team launch a 15-metre pole into the water.
It's attached to a rope, like a giant needle and thread,
which in turn is connected to the net.
Moving out from here, they dig a series of 200 smaller holes,
so they can reach through the ice and guide the pole and net in the right direction.
Using traditional tools, and with ice up to a metre thick, it's tough work.
And I've offered to help.
But I'm not sure the locals are too keen.
There's a sharp metal prod on the end of a wooden handle.
He's using it to dive into the ice and create these small holes.
Give me this one, my friend. You can relax.
So once they've used the axe to kind of pick at the ice
and create the hole, we then use this shovel to try and scoop it out.
What's wrong? I'm doing my very best, my friend.
He makes it look so easy.
You can see now he's broken through the ice, water's come through,
this hole's almost done. And they just go to the next one.
Whilst they dig more holes, back at the start, it's time to cast the net.
Well, the guys are just spreading out,
making sure it feeds into the hole.
That's an astonishing two kilometres long.
What happens is, if it has any snags, it won't spread under the ice.
We want it to spread nicely and catch as many fish as possible.
Massive team of people.
Everybody knows exactly what they're doing.
But absolutely freezing cold!
So we've now travelled around two kilometres from the first hole we dug in the early hours this morning,
and this is the end of our journey. This is the exit hole.
It's here that they're going to pull the net from under the ice.
We may be in the middle of nowhere, but it draws quite a crowd.
Locals buying their fresh fish from the lake
mingle with curious tourists looking to take home a New Year's treat.
The net has been underwater three hours now, so it's time to bring it in.
Fishing in this way is a traditional method.
It's 1,000 years old,
and they're still using those techniques today.
This is called a capstone and it's driven by horsepower.
What the horses are doing is that they're rotating a central pivot
and pulling the rope through, that rope is drawing the net from under the ice.
It's so heavy that the fishermen themselves wouldn't be able to do it,
and they rely on the strength of the horses.
The harder it gets, the more weight, the more horses they use.
In this case, four horses is enough.
Pretty strange, there's a kind of expectant calm before the storm.
The whole place is really busy, but it feels really quiet.
People realise that the catch is coming.
After about an hour of the net not really producing any fish,
it is now filled to the brim with fish.
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
We're pulling it out! We're pulling it out!
Everybody's just getting involved!
There's fish everywhere!
There's a real sense of excitement!
There's some real monsters in these nets, some massive, massive fish!
You could feed a whole family based on just one of these!
This is it! This is the bighead carp that I came here for!
Mr Jang says I can take a fish home!
Now all I need to do is find someone to cook it for me.
The harvest takes two hours to pull in, and it's a bumper catch.
The fish are packed into baskets and taken back to the shore of the lake,
where they'll be packed and distributed all across China.
It's been a long day.
The haul has been a good one.
And now we're finally off the ice,
I really want to see what all the fuss is about.
The traditional way to cook bighead carp is to braise it with chillies,
ginger, and spring onions.
And here it is. Do you know what, it looks and smells absolutely fantastic, doesn't it?
So this is the bit I've been waiting for the most,
after a long hard day grafting on the ice, this is the reward.
I get to try the fish.
Caught in the morning, cooked in the evening.
Oh, that is absolutely sensational!
You can really taste the flavours!
You don't get fresher than this!
Guys, dig in! Dig in!
This is amazing!
This is why the people of China really embrace fresh fish in Chinese New Year.
The fish is an important animal symbol at Chinese New Year,
but there are many others.
One powerful mythical creature that holds enormous significance
in Hong Kong, and indeed all of China, is the dragon.
Think of a Chinese New Year celebration and you're almost guaranteed to see this -
the ancient tradition of dragon dancing.
It's especially important at New Year,
as Chinese legend has it that dragons are famed for bringing good luck to any new venture.
This tradition and art still thrive even in 21st-century Hong Kong,
where the city's skilled dragon dancers are always highly sought-after.
In Kowloon, Andy Kwok leads the Kwok Kung Fu & Dragon Lion Dance Team,
one of hundreds across China.
I've come to see the team's final preparations for the festivities.
-Good morning, I'm Kate. Lovely to meet you.
Oh, my goodness!
This is amazing!
This is called dragon dance!
And also we call this daylight dragon dance.
-Daylight dragon dance?
-Daylight dragon dance.
What's the significance of the dragon for Chinese New Year?
Why is it so important?
-In your country, these dragons little bit evil, right?
-But we are not.
-You're not evil?
Your dragon is kind...
Yeah. Also, they bring all the good luck and the happiness to people.
So, this is a key part of any Chinese New Year celebration,
is having a dragon as being part of that?
Yes. The dragon, lion dance and kung fu.
Dragon, lion dance and kung fu?
-So they're all connected?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But the lion dance is also like this.
So you see the dragon dancer...
Could I have a go and just see what it's like to hold...
-So this one?
Traditionally, the dragon was a sign of strength and power,
and was often used by China's emperors as their own symbol.
It's surprisingly heavy when you're doing this!
The most revered of the mythical animals,
its movements in a performance must demonstrate its power and dignity,
and the longer it is, the more luck it will bring the community.
-Oh, my good... OK!
I mean, you do start to feel...
..this amazing animal.
I thought I was quite fit, but you use every part of your body, don't you?
-So that's where the kung fu comes in, that physical training.
-You all absolutely have to work as a team, don't you?
-Just like, breathe together.
How long have you been doing this?
Because my father is the master, maybe in my mother's...
Inside my mother.
-You were dragon dancing before you were born?
But dancing dragons aren't the only creatures that play a part in New Year celebrations.
There are lions that dance, too.
Only the most advanced kung fu artists are allowed to be lion dancers.
It takes two performers in complete synchronicity,
a bit like a highly acrobatic pantomime horse.
Really interesting is that, you know,
for many people, a lion is a frightening animal,
but it's funny, it's comic!
-Yeah. Frightening is just one face for the lion.
-They also have many other face.
Just like now, he's drinking the wine.
-We will always create some new story to make the performance more modern.
-More modern, yeah.
And do you perform full-time?
Is this your full-time profession?
This is my full-time... My full-time job.
So there is enough work?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andy's elite team are in demand year-round
in Hong Kong and across China.
I caught up with them again at their latest booking,
a Hong Kong shopping centre's New Year celebrations.
It's the most incredible performance!
If that doesn't give the shopping centre good luck and prosperity for the rest of the year,
I don't know what will!
On New Year's Day, shows like these can be seen across China,
as people come out for a bit of fresh air.
1,200 miles north of here in Beijing,
the Hairy Bikers have been finding out what Beijingers get up to on New Year's Day.
In Britain, on January 1st, New Year's Day,
what's the first thing everyone wants to do once they've finally woken up?
You probably spent the day before overindulging, so you might think,
"I need to go for a bit of a walk."
Exactly! And in China, it's no different.
Now, at New Year, you see, in China,
when all the feasting and the celebrations are over,
the people of China like to come to one of these,
which is a temple fair.
It's a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.
It's an opportunity to get out into the open air.
You know, to burn off a few calories and to go for a stroll with your family, or your best chum.
So what do you have to do?
-Well, I think the coin's got to cover the little round thing.
-Oh, I get this!
-Davey, I got one!
-That was me!
-It was mine!
Hurray for me!
How come I'm throwing and then you get the presents?!
-They're nice, aren't they?
One's got rouge on!
Year Of The Monkey.
-Get us one, Dave.
-Oh, you lovely man!
Well, it's good luck.
But you can't just rely on a lucky monkey.
There are some pretty serious rules you have to follow
if you don't want to completely mess up the year ahead.
Rule number one, no medicine on the first day of a lunar year.
Because it's believed that if you take any medicine on the first day of the year, you'll be ill all year.
That's no good.
Rule two, no porridge.
But I like porridge!
Well, you can't have it. It's a peasant food.
And you'll be eating poor food, and be poor, all year,
if you eat porridge on the first day of the year.
-because it means that you're sweeping away the wealth of the new year to come.
Look, even Granny's in!
Temple fairs became especially popular during the Qing Dynasty.
In Beijing, there are four cosmological temples,
which occupy the four points of the compass.
You have the sun in the East, Heaven in the South, the moon in the West,
and here, we have the Temple of Earth in the North.
At the Temple of Earth, every New Year,
the Emperor would come to worship the God of Earth.
Nowadays, people gather to watch a re-enactment of this ancient ritual.
There's the Emperor, Si. There he is.
Every year, the Emperor would leave his palace in the Forbidden City,
and go and negotiate with the gods for a prosperous and auspicious new year for the people.
It's a real nod to the Chinese Imperial past, this, isn't it?
It is, very much so.
The Qing Dynasty was the last great Imperial Dynasty to rule China,
until their fall in 1911.
Hello, happy new year.
In recent years, in the People's Republic of China,
there has been a revival of interest in the Imperial past.
It's going back in time, isn't it?
We've been given the chance to catch up with the Emperor himself,
Mr Qin Shi Huang.
I've never met an emperor before.
That was the most wonderful spectacle.
One thing I've learned at this New Year
is that the Chinese have a love of family, and a love of tradition.
And out there, it's just encapsulated all of the love and tradition
that you see in modern China.
Dave and I were wondering, the next time you talk to the gods,
could you put a word in for both him and I?
KATE: Way down south, as night falls,
the main New Year's Day celebrations are just about to get started.
Here in Hong Kong, they take celebration to a whole other level.
This is the start of the famous night parade,
which will be kicking off in just a couple of hours.
They're thinking it's going to be the biggest parade ever,
150,000 people or more, lining the streets,
there are going to be two and a half thousand performers,
one of whom you might just recognise.
My Hong Kong parade preparations started much earlier.
This is the backstage area,
where all the performers gather before heading out onto the route.
And there's definitely an atmosphere of anticipation.
Now, I'm not going to be a spectator this evening,
I'm actually going to be part of the parade itself,
and I have the privilege of riding the Hong Kong Tourism Board float,
and here she is. As you can see,
it's all brightly coloured with neon lights, and of course,
it's scattered with monkeys everywhere.
The last time someone was allowed to be on the float was in the year 2000.
A certain Jackie Chan.
The huge audience the parade draws attracts performers from all over the world.
Where are you guys from?
The Netherlands, Tilburg.
-Did you make this?
Girls, where are you from?
There's always one. There's just time for some final rehearsals.
Organising this whole operation, including over 2,000 performers,
is Mason Hung.
-You're the grandfather of this event.
So go back to the very, very first event.
What was that like and why did you start?
Originally, at the beginning, we think about something very traditional,
but Hong Kong is an international city,
so, we would like to do something, in a sense,
Chinese, but also in a sense, international.
It becomes more colourful and more exciting.
I've got the privilege of being on one of the floats tonight.
-What advice would you give me?
Make sure you don't fall off.
As the acts go through a pre-show performance,
I make my way back to my personal chariot,
which is the very last float in the parade.
Hey, good luck guys, happy new year!
-Are you ready?
-Yeah, I'm ready!
Yeah! Good luck!
That's what's actually brilliant about this parade.
It's not just professional performers, children, schools,
everybody gets involved!
It has a real sense of community and a global participation!
I've got to go and get my jacket on, my red lucky scarf, get on my float,
and join in this massive parade!
As well as the school kids and me,
there are other amateur performers here.
These dancers are genuine airline cabin crew.
So this is it! We're through the gates and the parade's begun!
There's our man! The organiser!
So, the first part of the parade is simple.
This is the VIP area.
There's 1,000 VIPs... Whoa!
I'm now being showered!
With hot... I think it's my hair burning!
I still have the best view of the parade.
Kate's stuck out there, somewhere in the crowd.
It's a forest of mobile phones and selfies!
I'm battling... I'm battling my way through!
Look at these lions!
They're just fantastic!
Happy new year!
As we head out on our lap of the city centre,
we're going to be passing some of its most famous landmarks.
This is the clock tower, built in 1915,
and it's here as a symbol of migration from Hong Kong.
It's the first thing you see when you enter the harbour, and of course,
the last thing you see when you leave.
Once we pass the tower, we meet the people of Hong Kong.
Everyone's loving the dragons!
And you'll see in front of all the dragons,
there's someone carrying a pearl.
Everyone's touching it for good luck.
That's supposed to represent wisdom.
And the dragon is in this constant pursuit of wisdom,
so that's what the pearl means.
This whole city's partying!
Thank you! Amazing, someone in the crowd has just given me a red envelope!
It's a tradition in China.
Supposed to bring good luck.
At Chinese New Year, giving red envelopes is a hugely popular custom.
There's cash inside.
Thank you very much, my friends!
These incredible stilt walkers have come from the Netherlands!
Just magical, these dinosaurs!
We've entered Canton Road.
This is Hong Kong's equivalent of our Bond Street.
And somewhere here should be Kate Humble!
There she is!
I can see her! There!
How are you doing?
Happy new year, Ms Humble!
Well, that's it, and it has been the finale of this evening.
It's been the most amazing parade.
But, extraordinarily, the party doesn't end here.
Tomorrow, we've got a whole new celebration that will get started.
The day after New Year's Day
is famous in Hong Kong for its massive firework display.
We're up bright and early in anticipation.
So how did it feel to be the finale of the parade last night?
It was amazing! To be a part of a parade that shuts down this entire city,
and from a performer's perspective, it's better than having a front row seat. I'll never forget that.
Well, many of Hong Kong's residents today, before the fireworks,
will be at home cooking and eating together.
And as with so many aspects of Chinese New Year,
what they eat will be carefully chosen to bring them luck and good fortune.
As a visitor to Hong Kong, to get a taste of home-cooked food,
the places to head for are little food stores, known as dai pai dongs.
So a few days ago, I paid one a visit.
This is Central Market, which I love,
because it's like this little traditional enclave tucked away,
surrounded on all sides by high-rise buildings and designer shopping malls.
Hong Kong foodies head here,
when they're hankering after home-cooked food,
but they don't want the hassle of cooking it themselves.
At New Year, dishes are chosen because their name sounds similar to other auspicious words.
Alan Lo, a local entrepreneur,
is going to help me understand this tradition.
-Tell me about this one.
-So you've got a pig's trotter stew.
Pig's trotter in Chinese, ju sau, sounds
like jow sau, so it's like easy money!
Served with fat choy, which sounds like getting rich!
-Sort of like this wild vegetable.
I mean, I hate to say, it doesn't look great.
-It's actually very good.
-I like it.
So this is close to home cooking as you can get, not at home?
These places become really popular for your everyday,
either getting off work in central, popping by, or kind of local eatery.
Oh, wow, what's this?
-Now that's the signature dish of Chinese New Year.
-You've got a turnip cake.
Which is savoury, it's made with dried shrimp, dried scallops,
and dried sausages.
They call it nian gao, which is the New Year Cake.
That would keep you going for, like, a week,
-Oh, yeah! Yeah. We've got a sweet version of that which is
kind of a rice cake, and it's super gooey, and...
It's super gooey!
Oh, it is good!
It's caramelly and...
Yeah, families have really old-school recipes.
They make it at home and, you know, usually it's super delicious.
So it would be the equivalent of a family in the UK cooking the Christmas cake recipe
-that's been passed down the family for three generations?
So, Alan, how would you spend New Year with your family?
Obviously eating endlessly - it just doesn't stop.
You know, you eat all day long.
How many meals might you have in a day?
You mean apart from breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
There is another food that is completely ubiquitous in China.
Well, not just in China, all over the world.
But just because it is commonplace doesn't mean that it is not just as important for every New Year table.
You can be certain of finding one food anywhere in China.
Here in Beijing, noodles are on almost every menu.
If you are the manufacturer of instant noodles,
then you are on to a good thing.
The Chinese consume more instant noodles than any other nation in the world,
getting through 40 billion packs a year.
But noodles are more than just a convenient snack -
they are part of the culture.
Chinese archaeologists even discovered them in the ruins of a 4,000 year old house.
And they are particularly important for birthdays and Chinese New Year.
Well, one noodle in particular, and that is the longevity noodle,
because it is supposed to symbolise long life.
Now, don't think of a longevity noodle as a sort of single strand, like spaghetti.
It is actually made to one enormously long length,
and producing them is quite an art.
The longer the noodle, the more luck and long life you get.
So I travelled an hour outside Beijing to meet chef Liu Hui,
holder of the Shanghai Great World Guinness Record for the longest handmade noodle.
Ni hao. Good morning, Mr Liu.
-How are you?
So what type of flour are you using here?
And you've got some big mixing machines, but are the best noodles always made by hand?
Making a longevity noodle requires not only skill but patience as well.
And, two hours later, we are ready to roll.
I wonder what Paul Hollywood would make of this technique.
-And all the way along?
After a lot of rolling, you end up with something much longer.
So, our dough has been rolled, rested, rolled, rested, rolled, rested,
three times, and it now looks like this.
And the next stage, apparently,
involves a performance.
So he is aiming...
Oh, my goodness, this is bonkers.
It is like watching a magic trick.
It is the most amazing thing.
How long do you think this noodle will be when you are finished?
How long was your record-breaking noodle?
Look at that.
Traditionally, longevity noodles are either fried and served on a plate,
or boiled and served in a bowl with their broth.
So the big moment has come.
The cooking of the giant noodle.
And, according to Mr Liu,
the amount of noodle that you put in is dictated by the size of the bowl.
So guess how many centimetres of noodle might go in that.
You are way off. It is four metres.
Got to find the end - that is the tricky bit.
In it goes.
The longevity noodle is a metaphor for the long walk of life.
At Chinese New Year, cutting the noodle would mean bad luck.
So I'd better have a go at slurping mine whole.
OK, here goes.
This is a happy New Year slurp.
Back in Hong Kong,
there's still a few hours to go before one of the world's biggest
I am here at Victoria Harbour,
where the crowds have already gathered for tonight's fireworks.
Now, the Chinese certainly know how to put on an amazing display,
which is no coincidence when you consider this country produces 90% of the world's fireworks.
The fireworks for tonight's event have been produced and shipped from one particular part of China.
In Liuyang, every day starts with a bang.
For the people here, a day without detonations is a missed opportunity.
That is because Liuyang,
nestled in the lush green landscapes of Hunan Province,
is China's biggest producer of fireworks.
Over half the world's fireworks are made right here in this region.
Fireworks is a way of life for the people here.
One fifth of the population - that is over 300,000 people -
work within the industry.
The tradition of firework-making in Liuyang goes back more than 1,000 years.
A local monk called Li Tian wanted to frighten off evil spirits,
so he filled pieces of bamboo with gunpowder and blew them up,
creating the world's first firecracker.
Today, Li Tian is still honoured as the inventor of the fireworks,
with a Taoist temple devoted to him in Liuyang.
You can see, there's three statues here.
On the left, we have got Ts'ai Lun. This is the guy that invented paper.
On the right, Sun Simiao. This is the guy that many believe invented gunpowder.
And in the middle we've got the main man, Li Tian.
You can see he is holding that little bamboo shoot.
This city owes so much to him, he is held in great esteem.
It would be the equivalent of us back in the UK having a temple or shrine to Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Ancestor worship is an important part of Chinese culture,
so local firework makers come here to pay their respects to this man, who founded their industry.
The constant background of bangs doesn't put them off venerating Li Tian.
So what it's like living with all those fireworks going off like all the time?
These days, fireworks are a big business,
and there are now over 800 fireworks companies in the Liuyang area.
Dancing Fireworks is a 20-year-old family-run company.
It now employs 1,600 people.
By far the most popular fireworks the Dancing factory makes are what is known as display shells.
These are for huge events like the Beijing Olympics, which Dancing supplied.
Display shells, like the ones in this warehouse,
go up to 300 metres and explode into massive starbursts,
and they are still largely made by hand in factories like this.
The workers at Dancing produce an extraordinary 2.7 million shells a year.
That is one shell every 12 seconds.
Each shell is made of a dome of compressed cardboard,
with a time display fuse stuck in with string and glue.
The Dancing factory does not just assemble fireworks.
It also comes up with new designs for the global market.
One of the main components used to make gunpowder is a chemical called saltpetre.
Now, they used to get it from bat droppings found in caves.
Nowadays, they make it synthetically, but the principle is about the same.
The science behind fireworks, however, that has really evolved.
And I've been given special permission to come here
to the factory development lab to take a look.
This is the lead scientist here. He is obsessed with pyrotechnics.
So if you could make any firework, your ultimate dream firework,
what would it be?
He has agreed to share his secret recipe for red fireworks with me.
So, what's it like, that moment that you have designed something in a laboratory here
and you get to see it explode for first time?
What does it feel like?
It's magical, right? You've got the best job ever.
I want to do this. I want to make one myself.
All right, so mix it up.
I'll just pour that in there.
The mixture we've made is carefully spooned into a tube.
Time to find out if the recipe has worked.
So this is the fun bit.
This is the test facility,
where I get to set light to these bad boys and watch them burn.
Now, hopefully, if we've got it right, these are going to be red.
So, get that down there.
I've got a lighter.
Hit the lights.
This is it, moment of truth.
It's red. This is it, it's actually red!
This is fantastic. I am now a bona fide fireworks maker.
Despite the joys of flashes and bangs,
making fireworks is a highly dangerous business.
And at Dancing, the most hazardous job on the assembly line -
putting explosives inside the shells -
takes place in a secluded area cut into the hillside.
In such vulnerable conditions,
it is essential to prevent electrical sparks.
As staff enter this area, they have to touch this metal pole.
That is to prevent static.
That really works.
This area has a real calming feel about it, and that is quite deliberate,
because the job that these guys are doing requires precision.
It has to be safe.
If they get it wrong, the outcome could be catastrophic.
The technician carefully adds the balls that will give the firework its colour,
and the ingredient which makes it explode,
rice kernels coated with flammable compounds.
Once the shell is packed with explosives, it is time to wrap it.
Different clients demand a different finish.
The Americans like a machine wrap,
while the Japanese prefer theirs handcrafted.
Everyone here is paid by the firework, so they are very fast workers.
So you are really quick. How many do you get through a day?
The shells are left to dry before being sent all over the world.
And here it is - a finished firework.
Now, the factory has to make sure that these definitely work,
and the only true way of doing that is to let them off.
And it is nearly dark.
I'm joined by Dancing Factory's general manager Eva Zhong for an hour's
quality-control - just a perk of her job.
Every evening, the hills of Liuyang are alive with the sound of fireworks
as each factory detonates its latest designs.
Seeing your fireworks in the sky, how does that make you feel?
I'm so proud.
It's my father's business, and also, our family business.
We made it from nothing.
And then we light the night sky.
The fireworks for tonight's display have been set up on the three barges
out there in the middle of the harbour.
Now, the budget for this event is a staggering £750,000,
and it takes months of planning and preparation.
To find out a bit more, I went to meet the brains behind the display, Wilson Mao.
A beautiful early morning in Hong Kong, and I am heading out to the barge,
which is where Wilson and his crew are working,
setting up all the fireworks in preparation for the display.
It takes a week to load up the barges with 4,500 kg of highly-explosive pyrotechnics.
Wilson's mapped out a spectacular show,
so he is making sure they are positioned perfectly to go off at the right place and time.
So those are the launch tubes, so the actual explosives, the fireworks, are stuffed in those?
There is an electric match,
together with the shell.
When the electric match ignites,
the shell is going to propel from the launch tube.
Isn't there any danger, when you've got this much explosive in one crate,
that one will go off and that will somehow set off the rest of them?
We have very rare incidents like what you said.
Although sometimes there may be some fire burn on some wires.
-That may happen.
Millions will be watching around the harbour and across the nation on TV,
so Wilson's devised an ambitious firework to celebrate the incoming year.
We have 60 monkey faces in the show.
For the Year Of The Monkey?
For the Year Of The Monkey, that's right.
We have the monkeys.
Oh, look at them!
He has spent months timing and testing his monkey face design.
But for now, the show exists only in his imagination and this computer simulation.
It's still an unpredictable art,
and there is so much he just can't control.
Sometimes, the 2-D effect doesn't turn out to be facing to the audience.
Because the shell is spinning in very, very high speed.
If it bursts like this,
you will see the monkey face.
But if it turns out like this, if it bursts like this, you see a line.
You won't see the face.
So you might just get a completely different view?
Oh, yeah. We can't do any kind of rehearsal.
That 23 minutes is the moment of truth.
-Well, night has fallen, and there's now over 150,000 people
cramming every viewpoint around Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.
The barges carrying Wilson's monkey face fireworks are over there, in position.
You couldn't hope for a more spectacular setting.
Hong Kong really comes alive at night.
Look at that - that is the perfect backdrop for tonight's fireworks.
It is looking absolutely fantastic, and better still,
the conditions tonight are exactly the way that Wilson hoped they would be - humidity's low,
it is a dry night, little bit of wind to dispel the smoke.
I think we are going to be in for a tremendous treat,
and it's going to start any moment now.
There they go!
Oh, my goodness!
On the other side, there is another whole crowd of people,
and there's just this kind of constant winking of cameras going off.
It's the monkeys.
These are the monkeys now.
There they go.
The red bursts are the monkey faces.
Like Wilson said, quite a few are side-on to us.
But that's good news for the crowd over there.
Do you know what, months and months of work,
-and it all goes up in a moment.
-What do you reckon Wilson is feeling right now?
He is just so cool and calm, isn't he?
He is just like "Yeah, I have done it."
-"I've done it."
-"I've done it again."
-Oh, my God!
That was bonkers. I'm speechless.
That was absolutely extraordinary.
And what a fitting end to what has been an extraordinary insight into the traditions
that go to making truly the greatest celebration on Earth.
Wow. We're pulling it out.
-We're pulling it out.
-It's like watching a magic trick.
-This is TV on a huge scale.
And it's extraordinary.
And here it is in all its frosty glory.
We began our journey in the ice city of Harbin...
Witness the spectacular transformation that happens when darkness falls...
We followed millions of people on the move heading home to their families...
Oh, that is so sad, it makes me cry.
Look at you!
And we've gone behind the scenes at this immense festival as no-one has done before.
They are about to do the performance of a lifetime.
I'm not keeping up at all!
We have loved being able to enjoy the celebration with people all over China.
They need to be the same length?
Xin nian kuai le!
Oh, my God.
Discovering a little bit of what it is to live in this enormous country as it enters the Year Of The Monkey.
Oh, my goodness!
Happy New Year!
Real sense of joy.
It has been a real privilege.
It has been fantastic.
And all that's left from us to say is Happy Chinese New Year.
From Ant and me in Hong Kong, have a very good night.
Kate Humble and Ant Anstead present the final programme from Hong Kong, looking at what happens right after New Year. This great port city is a strange mix of ultra-modern and traditional. Kate trains with a top dragon-dancing troupe and discovers that not only is it a highly demanding kung fu-based art, it is also taken very seriously as Hong Kong people sincerely embrace the tradition of lucky lions and dragons at New Year.
Meanwhile, the Hairy Bikers are in Beijing at the Temple Fair, where they explore a tradition from imperial China of the emperor starting the new year by renewing his mandate of heaven.
Ant heads to China's frozen north east to Chagan Lake to discover the ancient art of fishing beneath the thick frozen surface. It is an extraordinary scene as the fishermen use centuries-old techniques to catch fish, a key part of any New Year's banquet.
The culmination of the series is all about fireworks. Their loud bangs are believed to ward off evil spirits at this time of year. Ant goes to Liuyang, the city that produces nearly all of China's fireworks and many of those used in displays in British skies too. They even have a temple here to the inventor of fireworks, where workers still pay homage to the monk Li Tian, who started it all. And back in Hong Kong, we experience one of the most extraordinary fireworks displays on the planet as millions of Hong Kong dollars' worth go off in a blaze of light and colour over the famous harbour.