The Year of the Horse begins today

China is celebrating the year of the horse and many will benefit from a week-long holiday.

Citizens celebrate the first day on the lunar calendar with generous banquets, visits from relatives and televised Spring Festival Gala. The four hour variety show features entertainment for the whole family with a "not-so-subtle patriotic message."

Guests on this year's show include singers from the People's Liberation Army and Chinese astronauts, with light promotion of the country's military and technological achievements.

Critics do not rate the long-running programme highly, claiming it is "cheesy and outdated", but there is no doubt that is will be on the TV in the background of most Chinese homes in the hours leading up to midnight.

Thousands of people across the UK will also be taking part in the celebrations.

Asia Outlook would like to wish all our followers and readers a happy Chinese new year.