Chinese New Year eve is an important occasion so Liverpool Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in UK and with one of the largest archways in the world welcomes the year of the Dragon with a day of exciting programs.
Dragon and lion dance performances
The most highly anticipated program is the Dragon and Lion dance performance by the Liverpool Hung Gar Kung Fu Friendship Association.
This association’s dragon and lion dance is synonymous with Liverpool’s New Year celebrations having been involved for the last few decades.
Perhaps that explained why their route was lined with excited audiences of all ages and with many armed with their cameras and videos recorders. The drum beats signaled the start of the program with a pair of lions appearing to greet their fans.
Shortly afterwards, a 70 feet gold dragon appeared and drifted towards the audiences chasing its flaming pearl. A team of 17 dragon dance performers guided the dragon enabling it to drift gracefully and effortlessly in the air unaffected and undeterred by the strong wind.
An interesting observation about the lion and dragon dance is the performers. There were Chinese members as expected but there were also a large number of Caucasian and non-Chinese of both genders and of varying ages including two very young boys!
This is an excellent example of multi-cultural Liverpool and credit for the diverse lion and dragon dance teams must be given to Sifu Stephen Ornellas, the leader of Liverpool Hung Kar Kung Fu.
The lion and dragons then moved on to present greetings to the businesses and institutions in Liverpool Chinatown. And there, another interesting observation arises.
Liverpool Chinatown style firecrackrs
Firecrackers are an indispensable part of New Year celebrations. Acknowledging fire cracker’s role in creating the New Year ambience and its possibility as a fire hazard, Liverpool have produced an interesting way to set off firecrackers complete with full safety precautions that kept everyone happy.
This might be an idea Chinatowns around the world can consider. Afterall, firecrackers are not dangerous. It is the misuse of firecrackers that is dangerous.
As the crowd moves towards the Liverpool Chinatown archway, many headed off to the Taste of China event where food and souvenirs awaited them.
The nearby supermarket was enjoying great business as families buy items required for the reunion dinner while non-Chinese customers stock up ingredients for Chinese cooking.
Not all events need to be very traditional. At the other end of Chinatown and facing the archway was a fair with adrenaline pumping rides for anyone keen to swing in the air.
Something for everyone
Liverpool Chinatown’s celebrations brought out the multi-cultural dimension of the society not only in terms of audiences but performers.
It is for everyone; local and also visitors. In fact, a small program booklet with basic information on Chinese New Year was published for free distribution and also available in all hotels.
At the end of the day, everyone left with something interesting, something memorial and definately with lots of photos.
Event date: 22 Jan 2012
30th day of the 12th lunar month, year of the rabbit