Feature: Wellington celebrates Lunar New Year with parade, fair

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WELLINGTON, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people crowded the streets and waterfront in Wellington on Sunday afternoon to watch the annual Chinese New Year Parade, with Wellington Mayor Andy Foster leading the way.

The capital streets were filled with a fabulous display of color and celebration, led by dragon and lion dancers to bring good health and fortune to the city for the coming year.

The parade offered over 10 marching groups, including several vibrant lion and dragon dancing teams, a waist drum group, as well as a Chinese-themed costume display group featuring Qipao, Changshan, and oil-paper umbrellas.

First-time joining in the annual parade, the Chinese-themed costume display group consisted of attendees through Wear a Qipao or Changshan in New Year Parade, an online campaign posted by China Cultural Center in Wellington on the social media app Meetup, and students of the Mandarin class co-launched by the China Cultural Center in Wellington and Wellington City Council.

Lily Zhang, a participant in the costume group as well as the teacher of the Mandarin class, said she was "very proud to display Qipao to all the Wellingtonians in the most important festival for Chinese community."

The finish point of the parade is the most popular venue on the day in Wellington-the Chinese New Year Fair. People stopped in front of stalls to taste Chinese snacks, watch Chinese handicrafts, shop for special souvenirs, and enjoy watch Chinese cultural performances.

This year, the New Zealand Post Group issued a set of Chinese zodiac stamps for the Year of the Ox. Local people lined in the stalls selling stamps to appreciate and buy the stamps.

In the fair, a curated program of performances highlighting the richness and color of the Chinese culture took a retrospective look at groups that have participated in the festival over the past 20 years.

Lunar New Year celebrations were first organized by the Asian Events Trust (AET) in 2002 and the festival has grown to one of the most popular events in the city.

Linda Lim, Chair of Asian Events Trust, noted that the Chinese New Year has turned to be one of Wellington's largest and most anticipated cultural events over the past 20 years, providing an important connection to Chinese culture for everyone in Wellington.

"While we wanted to acknowledge the significant milestone of reaching 20 years, the driver in development of this year's festival program remains an authentic celebration of Chinese New Year, and to present an event that is relevant to all New Zealanders; a program that holds some appeal for everyone," she said.

"The inaugural Festival provided an opportunity for the Chinese community to come out from behind closed doors and celebrate the most important festival in its calendar. The scale of Chinese New Year celebrations has grown to fill a gap not just for the Chinese community, but for the wider community to celebrate Wellington's cultural diversity and for the Chinese community to feel understood, accepted and proud to be Chinese in Aotearoa," said Lim. Enditem

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