MANCHESTER is to host the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations the city has seen to date, according to plans revealed today by FCAM (Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester), the Manchester Chinatown Group, the Heart of Manchester BID and Manchester City Council.
The city-wide event will culminate in a weekend of activities taking place from Thursday 30th January – Sunday 2nd February to celebrate ‘The Year of the Horse’. This year, for the first time, celebrations will extend into key shopping areas of the city.
Leading up to the weekend, thousands of traditional red Chinese lanterns will decorate the city’s streets running from Chinatown along Market Street, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street and Cross Street, leading to Albert Square.
Headline activity on Sunday 2nd February will include the famous Dragon Parade, a 175ft Dragon which will dance its way at 1pm from Albert Square to Chinatown, where entertainment will include street food stalls, martial arts, a funfair, traditional dance and performances, alongside traditional Chinese arts where families can learn skills including calligraphy, origami and tangrams. The day will end with an amazing fireworks display at 6pm.
From Thursday 30th January – Saturday 1st February, St Ann’s Square will come alive with a food market (open 12pm – 9pm) showcasing some of the best Chinatown eateries, including Yang Sing, Red Chilli, I am Pho, Pearl City and Wong Wong Bakery, alongside a pop-up bar hosted by Tiger Beer (open 12pm – 10pm). Visitors will also be entertained with music and traditional performances over the weekend.
Retailers across the city will be joining in the celebrations with a variety of themed activities and promotions. On Saturday 1st February, Manchester Arndale will be handing out 2,000 Chinese New Year branded red envelopes, containing special vouchers, to shoppers across the city centre. To see if their envelope contains one of 500 winning vouchers, recipients need to head to the information desk in Wintergarden. Winners will receive a Manchester Arndale gift card worth £5.
At Selfridges in Exchange Square, a professional Mandarin calligrapher will be located in the store’s prestigious Accessories floor from Friday 24th January – Sunday 26th January (afternoons only), writing bespoke messages on red paper for customers making a purchase. Selfridges has also designed a bespoke gift card with Chinese New Year themed artwork, available to purchase at till points across the store, from 20th January until 6th February.
From Friday 31 January, customers purchasing from Beauty or perfumery at Harvey Nichols during Chinese New Year will receive a lucky red envelope containing an exclusive beauty offer. The store will also be running a prize draw competition to win an exclusive gift alongside special offers and promotions throughout the weekend. At the Second Floor Bar and Second Floor Brasserie, customers can enjoy a themed Chinese New Year cocktail and specially created ‘sticky pork buns’.
At House of Fraser, the Champagne Bar on the third floor will be offering half price cocktails between midday and 8pm Monday 27th to Friday 31st January, while the store’s Estee Lauder counter will be treating customers to fortune cookies and a special gift with purchase. Beauty brand Kiehls will also be hosting themed activities and beauty events for the duration of the Chinese New Year period.
Across the city, venues and attractions will be celebrating the Year of the Horse with a number of themed activities including, a screening of American Dreams in China at the Cornerhouse, with a pre-film talk by Dr William Schroeder, Lecturer in Chinese Studies at The University of Manchester. City centre casino Manchester235 will host ping pong, Mah Jong and Punto Banco tournaments and a Chinese New Year party on Monday 3rd February with a lion dance, luxury prize draws and red envelope giveaways. Families can also enjoy music and traditional Chinese performances at Manchester Art Gallery.
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) in the Northern Quarter, will be running a variety of workshops and drop-in activities in the run up to Chinese New Year with a celebration event on Saturday 1st February. Local illustrator and CFCCA’s artist-in-residence for Chinese New Year 2014, Lydia Meiying will be creating a horse-themed installation and window display with assistance from local schools, community groups and visitors. Lydia will be using light box and projection techniques to create horses which literally leap into life. The workshops are open to all in the two weeks leading up to Friday 31st January.
Jane Sharrocks, General Manager of Selfridges Exchange Square and Chair of the Heart of Manchester BID, said: “Chinese New Year is one of the largest and most popular events hosted in the city so we’re absolutely delighted that for the first time ever, celebrations will extend beyond Chinatown and Albert Square and into the city’s key shopping areas. We will be hosting a number of special events in-store.”
President of Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester, Mr Stewart Yip said: “The year of the Horse, is the vivacious animal seen by the Chinese as great success and achievement. 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 the city centre. The event will be a testament to the success of a multi-cultural society in which people of different cultural background work together and enrich each other to achieve unity and joyous celebration.”
Bonnie Yeung, spokesman for Manchester’s Chinatown Community Group, said: “The sino- Mancunian Chinatown community is really pleased that our longstanding new year celebrations are being championed across the city in 2014. There’s growing interest and impetus to work with Chinese businesses and China itself too; we hope this momentum will continue and lead to a wider renewal of the Chinatown area.
“A selection of Chinatown businesses will be hosting a red envelope giveaway for visitors from the 20th January until the 3rd February. We hope it will encourage increasingly more visitors to the city and to Chinatown.”
Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s City Centre Spokesperson, said: “The Chinese community has helped shape the very fabric of Manchester and are incredibly important to the heritage of the city, playing a large part in Manchester’s history, so it’s fitting that the city’s Chinese new year celebrations are always a sight to behold.
“A huge number of people came into the city centre for last year’s event and the 2014 celebrations are set to be even bigger and better.”