Events to celebrate the countdown to the Chinese New Year 2016

Events to celebrate the countdown to the Chinese New Year 2016

We’re getting ready to celebrate and so wish you a (slightly early) happy New Year!

This is the first of three blog posts celebrating the traditional Chinese New Year. In this post, we highlight events happening up and down the UK during the countdown; next time we will look at how the Chinese celebrate; finally, we’ll investigate just what the Year of the Monkey means.

Chinese dragonThe Chinese New Year’s Day is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. The date is different each year when using the Gregorian (internationally-used) calendar, and falls between January 21st and February 20th. In 2016 it’s Monday February 8th.

London will see the biggest celebrations outside Asia, as hundreds of thousands of people descend on the West End to mark the occasion. A colourful New Year’s Parade will pass through the city to Chinatown, with dragons, acrobats, dancers and singers. An official opening ceremony will take place in Trafalgar Square.

At the Magical Lantern Festival Premiere at Chiswick House & Gardens in London, the environment will be transformed into an extravaganza of lights, culture, art and cuisine. The festival is an outdoor event, and will be a wonder of light and illumination. Guests will enjoy a 75 minute cultural adventure and explore a picturesque garden trail through Corridors of Light leading to vividly themed zones.

Elsewhere in the UK, Chinese communities will hold New Year parades and public celebrations close to the first day of the Chinese year. These include:

  • Lion dances in city centres with a strong Chinese community
  • Performances of traditional and contemporary Chinese dance and music
  • Communal meals and tasting sessions of traditional Chinese and Chinese inspired foods
  • Short courses and lectures on Chinese history, language and culture
  • Exhibitions of art and crafts created by artists from China or of Chinese decent
  • Displays of lanterns and fireworks

Most events are open to the general public and are friendly and welcoming for people of all backgrounds to learn more about Chinese culture.

Why not leap into the Year of the Monkey with four days of spectacular celebrations in Manchester from Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th February? Happenings include an Asian food market, a giant Chinese Golden Dragon and the Parkour Monkey Runners.

In Leeds, this year’s event takes place on Sunday 14th February at Leeds Town Hall. The occasion promises to deliver an authentic Chinese experience, with dancing, music, a Chinese lion dance, Chinese calligraphy, kung fu and tai chi. There will also be stands offering Chinese food, crafts, beauty and face painting.

Grab the kids and head to Leeds City Museum on Wednesday 3rd February to make a Chinese creation of your own. Join artist Van Nong to make a beautiful lantern in celebration of the New Year during one of two workshops, which are free and open to adults and families.

Kung Hei Fat Choy are the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Glasgow Museum Resource Centre. This event takes place on 14th February and will include calligraphy and making Chinese lanterns as well as traditional New Year ceremonies and rituals for all members of the family.

In Birmingham, the Chinese New Year is always a huge event and generally attracts up to 30,000 people.  You can see in the Chinese New Year 2016 with a spectacular show in Wolverhampton as part of the region’s cultural line-up.  The University of Birmingham welcomes in the New Year with a free concert.

Join us next time on the blog for an insight into how the Chinese celebrate in their own country.

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