Lancaster’s first festival of 2024 will celebrate the best of Chinese culture as the city marks the Year of the Dragon.
Lancaster is the only place in Lancashire where the Chinese New Year is marked so publicly and by mid-January, up to 600 Chinese lanterns will adorn New Street, Penny Street and Market Street as a taster for the Festival.
Entertainment begins on January 27 when the Grand Theatre once again hosts a cultural variety show highlighting China’s rich artistic heritage and featuring nationally known performers who will bring Chinese traditions to life through music, dance and theatre.
Kunshan Opera, which has a history dating back more than 600 years, will be performed for the first time at the show by Xiaohe Sun who has practised this melodious art form in China and overseas.
And for the first time in the North, Manchester Chinese Academy of Dance will join forces with musicians from Liverpool’s Pagoda Arts to perform traditional Chinese folk music.
Tickets for the show, which starts at 7pm, are now on sale, priced £12 adults, £8 students, £5 children. Family tickets for two adults and two children are priced £30. To book, visit https://lancastergrand.co.uk/shows/chinese-new-year-variety-show/
The family friendly Chinese New Year Festival takes to the streets on Sunday, February 4, with stalls and free workshops beginning from 10am.
The official opening ceremony takes place at 12 noon on the plinth in Market Square followed by the lion and dragon parade around the city centre.
Among the new free attractions in St Nicholas Arcades will be a roleplay workshop where festivalgoers can hold and move the colourful giant heads of the dragon and lion.
St Nicholas Arcades will host free Touhu or Pitch Pot too, a game where arrows are thrown into a bamboo pot.
Also new will be a catwalk display of traditional Chinese dress by Arts of China on the Market Square plinth during the afternoon as well as kung fu and dance demonstrations.
Visitors can try on some Chinese costumes and have their photos taken in the photo booth in the Square and there will be opportunities to have a go at Chinese calligraphy too.
For the past three years, Lancaster’s Chinese New Year Festival has been organised by Popber, a Community Interest Company set up to help businesses in the city and supported by Chinese students from Lancaster University.
“I think it’s very important to share our culture with everyone in Lancaster,” said Josh Leung, one of Popber’s founders who has been supported by Yilin Wu and Percy Lee.
“It’s also important as it brings a feeling of home for many of the Chinese students living in Lancaster. New Year is like Christmas back home, it’s a time of reunion.”
The free festival is a non-profitable event and is funded by Lancaster University, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster University Confucius Institute, Lancaster BID, St Nicholas Arcades, Lancaster University Management School, Berry’s Jewellers and Hainan Airlines.
For more information, visit https://www.lancasterchinesenewyear.com/