Kicking off with spectacular firework displays, colorful street parades, Shaolin martial arts performances and 175 feet long Dragon dances, CHINA NOW's nationwide Chinese New Year celebrations witnesses the UK entering into a Chinese culture craze.
CHINA NOW, the UK's largest ever festival of Chinese culture, has launched its 6-month festival of over 800 Chinese events across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with Chinese New Year festivities celebrating the Year of the Rat.
Considered a lucky creature, the Year of the Rat is seen as a prime time for self-renewal, hard work and new opportunities. Those born in the Year of the Rat characteristically adapt themselves to the situation at hand, have the ability to cope with difficulties and are at their best during a crisis.
Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and normally begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar lasting for 15 days. The New Year celebration starts this year on February 7 and ends on February 22.
Following on from Chinese New Year celebrations, the CHINA NOW festival will include exhibitions, performances and activities spanning Chinese film, cuisine, comics, art, literature, music, design, science, technology, business, education and sport across the UK.
Top CHINA NOW New Year Celebrations across the UK
1. Lighting Lanterns on Oxford Street
At the start of the celebration to mark Chinese New Year large Chinese lanterns will be lit at Oxford Circus on February 6. This is a China in London event in association with CHINA NOW. 5 PM.
2. Family Day at The British Museum
On Saturday February 9th the British Museum will host a special day of celebration for Chinese New Year. To welcome in the Year of the Rat, the Museum will present a spectacular performance program, displays, workshops and story telling, including exciting performances of Chinese folk tales by the Beijing Bailing Shadow Puppet Troupe and RDFZ Dance Troupe. There will also be opportunities for visitors to participate in painting and lantern workshops as well as making terracotta warriors. Other activities include screenings of classic Chinese silent films, storytelling and gallery talks in Mandarin, Cantonese and English by a wide range of guest speakers including Jung Chang, Antony Gormley, Hugh Quarshie and Dan Snow. Throughout the day, there will be Chinese-themed food available from the museums cafes, Chinese food stalls around the Great Court and Chinese tea and beer appreciation.
3. Parade and Trafalgar Square celebrations
London's celebration for the Chinese New Year of the Rat on February 10 begins with a parade along the Strand, Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. The parade will be held from 11 AM - 1 PM.
From midday to 6pm, the main event takes place on Trafalgar Square with Dragon dances and a stage featuring the best of traditional and contemporary Chinese Arts and Entertainments. Included are visiting artists from the Beijing Dance Drama & Opera House and a dance group from the High School Affiliated to Renming University of China. There will be fireworks displays in Leicester Square hourly from 2 PM - 6 PM plus cultural stalls, food, and colorful decorations around Chinatown.
Organized by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, this is a China in London event in association with CHINA NOW.
On 10th February, Chinese New Year Celebrations will include two stages with performances from artists from both China and Manchester. Based in both Manchester Chinatown and Town Hall Albert Square, the programs include Chinese stage magic, acrobatics, martial arts, a colorful grand parade, a 175 feet long Dragon with drums and gong, lion dance, a Datong drum fleet and Chinese fairies. Street stalls of Chinese Arts & Craft gifts, delicious Chinese food, jewelry and handicraft stalls, a funfair and much more.
On 17th February the Dome Complex in Brighton will be showcasing a mix of both traditional and contemporary staged performances in the concert hall, including music, dance, theatre and community choirs. The Corn Exchange will be brim full of interesting stalls and tasty Chinese delicacies. The North Lane area between Jubilee Square and Pavilion Gardens will be decorated with vibrant and festive banners and lanterns, the streets will come alive with the sights and sounds of Chinese New Year, a Lion dance, Dragon parade and much more. The finale to the day's celebrations will be a beautiful Chinese lantern parade in collaboration with local community arts organization "Same Sky". Midday – 6pm.
Held in the Lower Precinct Shopping Center on February 10, the Coventry & Warwickshire Chinese Community Association are organizing Dragon & Lion Dances, Tai Chi, Chinese Folk Music, Shaolin Martial Arts, Stalls, Food and Competitions.
On the February 10, at the African Caribbean Center, the Chinese Association of Southampton will be hosting an evening including a Dragon & Lion Dance, Tai Chi, Chinese Folk Music, Shaolin Martial Arts, Stalls, Food and a number of competitions.
Admission: £5. Children under 12 for free.
On February 7 at 7:30 PM, the UK Silk String Quartet will be appearing at the Richard Attenborough Centre in the University of Leicester for an evening of Chinese and Western music. The Silk String Quartet is the first and only Chinese String Quartet in Europe. The group combines traditional and modern, Chinese and Western music in a fresh and creative way. The four talented female virtuosi have all been trained in China and the West and performed diverse music genres worldwide.
Held in Liverpool's Chinatown on February 10, the annual one-day event attracts 20,000 people. As part of the Liverpool's European Capital of Culture year, events planned for the Year of the Rat include artistic workshops, Chinese market, traditional Lion dance, funfair, street-trading, a variety of music & dance performances as well as martial arts demonstrations.
Traditionally on the first day of Chinese New Year a ceremony takes place to welcome the gods. Michael Lee, curator from the Museum of East Asian Art, will be talking about their current exhibition 'Shen: Chinese Icons of Divinity' in celebration of the New Year at 2-3 PM on February 7.
On 10th February 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM at Lakeside, the University of Nottingham's public arts centre, Chinese New Year's celebrations will include music, dance and drama and a Lion and Dragon Dance. The event finale will feature a spectacular firework display across the lake.
Edinburgh is holding a traditional show of Chinese culture and art, with dance, music, songs, drama and acrobatics by Edinburgh Chinese School at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh on Sunday, February 3, at 2 PM.
There is also a session on February 9 involving storyteller, dancer and musician Marion Kenny, who is being joined by Scotland's leading Chinese musician and composer Kim-ho Ip for an afternoon of New Year celebrations in the Storytelling Court at 2:30 PM at 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh. All ages are welcome.
The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff is holding a Chinese New Year Gala on February 2. Over 350 guests are expected to be in attendance from all over the UK to celebrate the New Year of the Rat. The event will include Chinese martial art performances, calligraphy workshops, traditional ballet performances, a fashion catwalk show and hip-hop dancers. Prior to the event, a series of educational workshop for pupils from Cardiff Chinese School will also be taking place on the subject of traditional Chinese dance; arts and crafts prior to the Gala, and all work of arts will be shown on the day of the gala. 7 PM.
(China.org.cn February 5, 2008)