Thousands of red lanterns, live performances, food stalls and a dragon parade are just some of the ways Manchester will mark Chinese New Year in 2024. The annual event will return to the city in February, welcoming in the Year of the Dragon.
Taking place over the weekend of 10-11 February, the colourful celebrations mark the start of the new year - which falls on Saturday 10th - on the traditional lunar calendar. A packed programme of events will take place on including Manchester's legendary Dragon Parade, which came back last year for the first time since the pandemic.
This year’s celebrations, organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM) in partnership with Manchester Business Improvement District and Manchester City Council, will also see the return of Manchester’s famous, traditional red lanterns, ready to brighten the city’s streets in the run-up to Chinese New Year.
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and has been celebrated in China for thousands of years, with various forms of activities across the different regions of China. Traditionally, the New Year event is centred around removing the bad and the old, and welcoming the new and the good.
Also celebrated by Chinese communities outside the country, events and celebrations like lion dances, dragon dances and flower markets are just some of the ways it is celebrated.
Dragons are a symbol of good luck, health and strength in Chinese culture, and dragon dances are performed at the start of the New Year to chase away evil spirits and welcome in prosperous times. Headlining the celebrations, the popular dragon parade is set to take place on Sunday, 11 February, and will see thousands of visitors watch as the famous 175ft Chinese dragon weaves its way through the city’s shopping streets.
Taking place from 12pm, the dragon will be accompanied by traditional lion and ribbon dancers, Chinese Opera performers, twelve Zodiac animals and Ancient Army characters, making their way to Manchester’s popular Chinatown. In the past, the parade, has made its way to Chinatown via Mount Street, Peter Street, Oxford Street, Portland Street, Princess Street and Faulkner Street.
Chinatown will also be celebrating the lunar new year with a live performance stage, fun fair and street food stalls from 12 until 7pm. While more information is expected on the line-up for the festivities, previous years have seen performances of acrobatics, singing, poetry readings, dancing and kung fu across the city centre, as well as lion dances, workshops and a fun fair.
Last year, Manchester's annual Chinese New Year celebrations feature a Chinese Market on Piccadilly Gardens with lots of stalls serving up a variety of food, drink and crafts on offer. Around the city centre in February, visitors will also notice streets adorned with thousands of red lanterns - a staple in Chinese culture, particularly in times of celebration.
Different types of lanterns exist, and each type has a unique meaning. In China, red represents wealth, fame, and prosperity, which is why festivals and other celebrations often have a lot of red decorations and outfits.
Jenna Campbell, Manchester Evening News, What's On Editor, 28 December 2023