Most big cities hold huge parties on December 31 to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight.

But while January 1 is the start of the new year for most of the western world, not everyone follows that tradition.

For Chinese communities, new year begins on a different date - and it changes each year.

Chinese New Year is celebrated with colourful public events in cities that have a large Chinese community, such as Birmingham.

These places hold a big street party with lion dancing, dragon dancing, fireworks and other performances.

So when is all that happening in 2018?

Here's all you need to know.

When is Chinese New Year in 2018?

Chinese New Year always falls somewhere between January 21 and February 20.

In 2018, Chinese New Year will be on Friday, February 16.

The date of the Chinese New Year Festival in Birmingham follows the annual custom of being on the following Sunday, which this year is February 18.

Why does the date change?

People celebrate Chinese New Year at the Arcadian centre in Birmingham's Chinatown.

The first day of Chinese New Year is on the new moon at the end of the existing year.

This starts the first month of the Chinese calendar.

It's usually the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Because the lunar cycle does not line up with the sun-based calendar used by most of the western world, the date of Chinese New Year changes every year - much like the dates of Easter, Eid and other cultural and religious festivals based on the moon.

Which animal is it this year?

The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle and 2018 will be the Year of the Dog.

It was also the Year of the Dog in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006.

The year of birth - and the animal it represents - is believed to influence a person's personality.

Those born in the Year of the Dog are said to be brave, honest, friendly, loyal, smart, straightforward and with a strong sense of responsibility.

Negative traits include being self-righteous, cold, stubborn, irritable, critical and not skilled at social activities.

People under the dog sign are said to be best suited for jobs as politicians, police officers, judges, philosophers, doctors, teachers, writers, nurses, actors, counsellors, priests and psychologists.

Their lucky numbers are 3, 4 and 9, while they should avoid 1, 6 and 7.

Lucky colours are green, red and purple; unlucky colours are blue, white and gold.

Best matches to other people are those also born in a year of the dog or in a year represented by the tiger or horse. They are totally incompatible with those born in a year of the dragon.

Each animal is also assigned one of the five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water - every time the sign comes around. This year it's the time of the Earth Dog. The element of earth has not been associated with the dog since 1958.

Famous people born in a year symbolised by the dog include Donald Trump, Madonna, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Justin Bieber, Liza Minnelli, Sharon Stone and Dolly Parton.

How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

People celebrate the Chinese New Year in Birmingham's Chinatown.

Chinese New Year - sometimes called Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival - is the biggest event on the Chinese calendar.

Festivities held in the Chinese quarter of Birmingham are also among the city’s largest public celebrations.

Originally a time to honour the gods and ancestors and hold family gatherings and feasts, Chinese New Year is often seen by today’s younger generations as a holiday from work and a chance to relax and have fun.

The New Year festivities start on the first day of the lunar month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest.

The first week is celebrated with visits to friends and family following various rituals designed to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits.

The second week ends with a lantern festival on the evening of the 15th day of the lunar month, and can also be a time when single men and women look for a partner.

Why not celebrate with a trip to China. Check out a range of filghts from Birmingham Airport with Skyscanner here