Manchester will stage one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations in Europe and start the ‘year of the ram’ with a bang this weekend.
The Chinese New Year events in Manchester are the largest celebrations in the UK, outside of London, and last year’s festivities saw over 90,000 people ring in the year of the horse.
2015’s Chinese New Year – the year of the ram – will see the celebrations in the city expanded even further, with a myriad of events across Manchester from Thursday February 19 to Sunday February 22.
The festivities take place across four days with the headline act of the famous Dragon parade starting in Albert Square at 12.30pm and travelling through Chinatown on Sunday February 22.
Chinatown will host traditional lion dances, food, a funfair, family workshops and martial arts displays on Sunday, concluding with a spectacular fireworks finale at 6pm.
Celebrations in the city are already underway with red lanterns appearing all over the city centre.
The Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester, the Heart of Manchester BID and Manchester City Council, with the support of Manchester Chinatown, have planned the city-wide celebrations.
President of the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM), Stewart Yip said: “The Year of the Ram is the peaceful and orderly animal seen by the Chinese as luck and harmony.
“A lot of planning, preparation and efforts will be taken to make this year’s celebrations a week full of fun and excitement in Chinatown and across Manchester city centre.”
As well as the traditional celebrations in the city, a variety of family workshops will be hosted by the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and Manchester Confucius Institute.
CFCCA’s workshops in St Ann’s Square include origami, Chinese zodiac and design your own Ram.
A series of large scale art, light and film projects will be projected onto the side of St Ann’s Church every evening from 6pm to 10pm from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February, courtesy of CFCCA.
Daniel Jarvis, Marketing and Sales Coordinator at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, said: “It’s fantastic. It’s a time when the city really gets in tune with its Chinese culture.
“Manchester has such a high Chinese population and China’s culture I think internationally is becoming a stronger and stronger presence.
“It’s a time of celebration and it’s a time when we can really work with that increased exposure. It’s also a chance for us to stay true to ourselves and that is Chinese contemporary culture and to put together a programme and give a platform for that.
“You get some of the things like the wonderful Dragon dance in the city centre and the red lanterns, which are all fantastic, but to be able to offer something new and something a bit more forward facing is really exciting for us.”
The workshops organised by Manchester Confucius Institute include calligraphy and brush painting in St Ann’s Square, while the institute’s partnerships with Jin Long Martial Arts Academy and the Chinese Film Forum UK has produced a number of exciting collaborative events.
Jin Long Chinese Martial Arts Academy will deliver 30 minute public classes as well as a number of traditional Chinese performances across the city centre on Friday February 20.
The Chinese Film Forum UK will be showing The Golden Era (CBTA) (Huang Jin Shi Dai) on Monday February 16 at Manchester’s Cornerhouse.
Tabea Heckrodt, Events and Marketing Manager at the Manchester Confucius Institute, said: “Manchester has such a large population of Chinese people and it’s such a big part of their lives so it gives the people of Manchester a great opportunity to see what Chinese culture is like.
“And it’s not just something that they can learn about, it’s something that they can get involved with and get hands on with because of the workshops.
“I’m really excited and hopefully it will encourage people to learn more about China and understand better what Chinese culture is about, because we live in such a multicultural city. It’s been great to see it grow every year and see the general public becoming increasingly interested in it.”
To mark the new year tradition of the giving and receiving of red envelopes, Manchester shoppers will have the chance to win a share of £10,000.
Envelopes can be collected from St Ann’s Square on Thursday February 19, containing a share of the huge prize to spend in one of eight city centre shops including Manchester Arndale, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, Selfridges, Boots and Cath Kidston.
Celebrity chef Ching He Huang hosted a special Chinese cookery event at Harvey Nichols in Manchester on February 12 as part of the wide range of shopping specials and discounts across the city to mark Chinese New Year.
Ching said: “I am delighted to be involved with Chinese New Year in Manchester. Manchester is such a vibrant city with a really exciting calendar of events to celebrate the Chinese New Year, so I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
“Chinese New Year is about family, friends, food and fun. As a child, it was always about eating sticky nian gao (rice cake) and receiving lucky red packets of money from elders! It holds many special memories for me growing up.
“Now, as an adult, it is a chance to gather with family and friends for a big reunion dinner, reflect on the past and make new dreams for the coming year.”
The weekend’s festivities also includes a variety of workshops and classes across the city in what promises to be a busy and exciting weekend in Manchester.
Chinese New Year events in Manchester:
‘The Golden Era’ at the Cornerhouse – 5.30pm (Monday 16)
Red Envelopes Prize Giveaway at St Ann’s Square – 5pm to 9pm (Thursday 19)
New Year Light Show at St Ann’s Square – 7pm Thursday, 4pm to 10pm Friday & Saturday (Thursday 19 – Saturday 21)
Chinese Food Market at St Ann’s Square – 12pm to 6.3opm (Thursday 19 – Sunday 22)
Family Arts and Craft Workshops at St Ann’s Square – 12pm to 3.30pm (Thursday 19 – Sunday 22)
The Legend of Nian: A Circus Caravan at St Ann’s Square – 12pm to 8pm (Thursday 19 – Saturday 21)
Martial Arts Demonstrations at Manchester Arndale, King Street, St Ann’s Square, Market Street – 12pm to 3pm (Friday 20)
Tai Chi Class at Manchester Arndale – 2pm & 3pm (Friday 20)
Chinese New Year workshops at Manchester Central Library – 12pm to 4pm (Saturday 21)
Family Workshop: ‘Chop Chop, Sticks Sticks!’ at Manchester Art Gallery – 12pm to 4pm (Sunday 22)
Dragon Parade and Traditional Performances at Albert Square – From 12pm (Sunday 22)
Chinatown Celebrations and Firework Finale in Chinatown – 12pm to 6pm (Sunday 22)
Sun Xun: Stately Shadows at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (Until March 22)
Cai Guo-Qiang: Unmanned Nature at the Whitworth (Until June 21)
Image courtesy of Matthew Hartley, with thanks.