Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

CHINESE NEW YEAR 2016. LONDON CELEBRATES THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY

Over the next few days over a billion Chinese will be making travel plans to return home to celebrate their Spring Festival.

The Spring Festival last for over a month with the first few days being akin to our bank holidays, with many Chinese businesses closing or operating on reduced hours.

As the Moon transcends across the sky on the 8th of February it will welcome a new Chinese year, this year it is the year of the monkey.

If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, or 2004 then you are a monkey. Monkey people are well known as being wit, charm and intelligence, but are also practical jokers often mischievous and sometime a little naughty. Thanks to their outgoing and highly confident nature, people like to be around monkey folk as they tend to be the life and soul of the party.

Those born in the year of the monkey should be associated with the colours blue, white & gold, avoiding any shade of red as this may bring them bad luck.
The numbers four and nine will bring prosperity in a monkey year whilst two and seven should be avoided at all costs.

Shape shifting monkeys are believed in Chinese mythology to have been our ancestors for over two thousands of years, the Chinese being aware of our evolutionary status a long time before Darwin’s theory of evolution publication in 1838 proving we did descend from apes.

Many Chinese and Buddhist deities have been recorded in legend as taking monkey form at some time, the most famous being Sun Wukong “The Monkey King” from the novel “Journey to the West”.

One of the best places to be (apart from China obviously) to see the stunning cultural delights of the Chinese New Year celebration will be China Town in London. Between Old Compton Road and Leicester Square, the atmosphere will be colourful and noisy to say the least. Starting of the 4th of February, London’s first Chinese lantern festival descends on Chiswick House and gardens on Burlington Lane W4 London, for five weeks. On display will be more than 50 life-sized lanterns resembling Zebra’s, Kangaroo’s, Flamingo’s, a sixty metre Dragon and even a full size Elephant crafted from bamboo and paper. There will also be a number of other activities; from traditional Chinese street/performance theatre to art and lighting installations.

The “Enchanted Forest” is set to be a big hit as gigantic mushrooms, plants and flowers will amuse all ages, I imagine it to resemble the set of “Alice in wonderland” when Alice meets the Caterpillar.

Tickets are £16 for adults, £10 for children. As always parking can be an issue at large events, but either Turnham Green Tube station or Chiswick station will drop you off close by.

On 14th February there will be a ‘Grand Parade’ which incorporates ten ‘lion’ teams in what is set to be Europe’s biggest lion dance which begins at 10am from Trafalgar Square via the West End and on to Chinatown. At mid-day, the stage performances get under way with traditional dance troupes, acrobats, dragon and flying dances, opera and martial arts performances.

As the day comes to a conclusion, there will be a Grand Finale at 5.20pm as Monkey dancers and acrobats take to the stage to celebrate the year of the Monkey and stunning pyrotechnics will illuminate Nelson’s Column.

All of the finest Chinese restaurants will be booked up shortly so to avoid missing out on the celebrations with the family, book your place now.

It only remains for us to say ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le’ (Mandarin) or ‘San Nin Faai Lok’.

2016 Chinese New Year - Year of the Monkey

CHINESE NEW YEAR MANCHESTER

As the year of the red monkey grows closer is Manchester one of the best places in Europe to welcome in the New Year. A big claim but can Manchester pull this off?

Of course they can! Whilst the Chinese New Year celebrations officially begin on the 8th, the fun and games in Manchester start on the 4th February 2016.

Between Thursday and Saturday the whole of the front of St Ann church in St Ann’s square will feature a cutting edge light show interspersed with traditional art work and film to tell the story of the history of the celebration, created by local artist Stanley Chow, this will be an unforgettable audio-visual experience for all ages.

For those feeling a little peckish around St Ann’s square, look for a huge red opulently decorated marquee as local favourites Yang Sing and Rice Bowl will be offering tantalizing food and drink.

Those “in the know” will have heard of the world-famous “Tsingtao Dragon” beer (pronounced Ching Dow), formally an illegal Chinese Mafia pastime, was beer ping-pong. Keep your eyes peeled for a special pop up beer tent with a ping-pong playing robot. Challengers will have the opportunity to win gift ranging from t-shirts to a full-sized ping-pong table, but start practising now as this robot does not like to be beaten.

On New Cathedral Street, a food village comprising of colourful food carts will be set up so visitors can experience the traditional food and drink of the orient offering authentic sushi, sticky rice and other traditional favourites.

On Sunday 7th February 2016, in Albert Square, the atmosphere gathers momentum when at 12’ o’clock a massive 172 foot dragon dances to music before starting its parade at 1pm. Between 2pm & 5pm, the excitement moves to China town as music, dancing and story-telling takes to the stages before the fireworks at 6pm.

Around Market and Exchange Street’s over the festive period, a huge golden dragon will oversee events. Get a picture of him, tweet it to #chinesenewyearMCH for a chance of winning a £500 voucher to spend in Manchester airport.

Parkour ‘monkey runners’ will be demonstrating their skills with breath-taking stunts while the RareKind Hong Kong street graffiti artists ‘Rainbo’ and Uncle colour the streets with huge creations reflecting the tradition stories of the Chinese New Year.

For those visiting Manchester’s Arndale centre, this will be transformed into myriads of craft workshops as children will be encouraged to create their own monkey related masks and cards. A great deal of effort has been put in to ensure there will be something for everyone to enjoy or marvel at as over 90,000 people are expected to descend on Manchester city centre over the Chinese holiday period.

Already we have dispatched orders across the country in readiness for the big night as Chinese families make preparations for New Year’s parties, doing it in Epic style.

In the meantime, enjoy the fireworks from the Year of the Horse.

Most Dangerous Fireworks Festival in the World

Annually, the residents of Tainan City in Southern Taiwan gather together to hold an annual fireworks festival like no other. Held at the latter end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the festival is also known as ‘Bee Hives’ as the pyro is fired from the ‘Beehive’ which contains literally thousands of bottle rockets stacked full of gunpowder.

As well as the fireworks, there are lots of other events and concession stands on offer which broadens the appeal of the event.

Originally started following a terrible cholera outbreak, killing thousands across the Country in the late 19th century. Locals used to visit the local temple to pray for relief from this terrible disease. They went on to ask the local ruling powers to set up a parade at the end of the Spring Festival, along the route of which fireworks were lit in earnest. The plague was driven out and the locals laid this firmly at the feet of the procession and fireworks display and as such, the event has continued ever since.

What started out as a very small affair has grown into one of the biggest celebrations in the area and although as is apparent from the footage it is indeed quite dangerous, almost all of the people gathered are wearing helmets and full protective equipment, and appear to enjoy the experience a great deal.

The locals believe that it is good luck to be struck by a flying firework and there are even some religious extremists who take it to the next level wearing only a loincloth to be sure that they are hit and feel the pain which will give them good health and happiness for the forthcoming year…..Ouch.

They advertise it as being safe for children but personally, I would no more take my children and grandchildren to this type of event than fly them to the moon as there is a time and a place for kids to learn about firework safety, chemistry etc but standing in the street with them whipping past your ears is not really enforcing how to stay pyro safe.

I suppose that my living in a country that has a huge number of bonfire societies who make these boys look like amateurs (and the Sussex Bonfire societies have been on the go since the late 16th century) provided everyone is aware of the dangers and are free to leave whenever they wish or position themselves outside of the contact range I can’t personally see what all the fuss relates to.

The video below shows what fun they had.

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