Liverpool is gearing up for its biggest ever Chinese New Year celebrations to welcome the Year of the Dog.
From 5pm on Thursday 8 February thousands of Chinese lanterns will adorn William Brown Street, Lime Street, Renshaw Street, Ranelagh Street, Berry Street, Nelson Street and Great George Square, and a number of buildings will also turn red in homage to the Far East.
Lanterns will also adorn Liverpool ONE and Exchange Flags. After the success of the ‘Follow the Star’ campaign which took place at Christmas, Kazimier Productions will once again illuminate the Bold Street thoroughfare, this time with eight large lanterns accompanied by red lasers which will shine from the bell tower of St Luke’s Church. A newly commissioned sound design will run alongside this work which has been created by Kazimier in partnership with Pagoda Arts.
This carpet of red will coincide with the public opening of China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at World Museum on 9 February, with the buildings staying red and the lanterns remaining in place until 28 February which marks the end of Chinese New Year.
The excitement continues to build on Saturday 10 February as the Liverpool Hung Gar Kung Fu Friendship Association perform a traditional Lion Dance symbolising good luck and good fortune, banishing the winter and welcoming spring. The parade will take place through the city centre, starting on Bold Street at 1pm and finishing at Liverpool ONE. Pagoda Arts will also be performing at Keys Court within Liverpool ONE with a programme of dance and Tai Chi.
The main Chinese New Year celebrations will take place from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 February. Each night, a beautiful lumiere display will take over Chinatown, lighting up the Chinese Arch, the Black-E and The Arch (formerly known as the Scandinavian Hotel).
The new 12-minute projection commissioned by the city council and entitled Jingwei’s Legacy (a continuation follow from last year’s creation around an ancient Chinese myth, Jingwei and the Ocean) will be shown four times. The stunning creation focuses on cultural diversity and the hope that communities can live together harmoniously regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs.
On the Friday and Saturday, entertainment will start from 7pm as Hung Gar Kung Fu wow crowds with an illuminated dragon and Lion dance. There will also be performances by Chinese and British students in traditional Chinese dress and inspired by the Warring State and Hip Hop – a partnership by Pagoda Arts, Everyman Playhouse and Liverpool Confucius Institute. Jinewei’s Legacy will then be shown from 7.30-8.30pm.
On Sunday 18, which will be the main focus of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the projection will take place just once at 6.30pm and will be followed by a short pyrotechnic finale.
Digital experts Illuminos have returned once again and have created the lumiere creations in partnership with Pagoda Arts and First Take. The soundtrack to the show is a specially commissioned piece from acclaimed musician, composer and poet Jah Wobble with Tien and Chi Chi.
The traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, which attract around 20,000 people, will see a series of popular street performances, family workshops, shadow puppet theatre, art installations, parades and of course the popular Chinese market on George Street selling gifts, souvenirs and mouth-watering Chinese food. This year’s event forms part of the China Dream season, in partnership with University of Liverpool, which is set to be one of the highlights of the Liverpool 2018 programme – celebrating ten years since the city held the title of European Capital of Culture.
Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Our Chinese New Year celebrations are always hugely popular, but as this is a special anniversary year for the city, we wanted to do as much as we can to bring in the Year of the Dog.
“The beautiful Chinese lanterns lining our streets along with buildings lit up in red will signal the start of the New Year activities and will build up the excitement as we head towards the main weekend of activity.
“Last year’s illuminations transformed Chinatown, and the beautiful work created by Illuminos was breath-taking. I encourage as many people as possible to experience this year’s Jingwei instalment as it really is an unmissable piece of art work.
“It’s set to be a wonderful weekend an opportunity for people to come together to celebrate our Chinese community.”
Across the weekend, people can also take part in a specially created augmented reality trail which will take people on a tour through some amazing moments in Chinese cultural history in Liverpool and beyond. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Sunday’s family friendly activities, kick off from 11.30am, with the programme which is as follows:
Great George Square Stage 11:30am – 6pm
11:30am – 12:15pm Kwong Tam School of Tai Chi (in association with See Yep Association)
12:20 – 1pm Flower Drums, Fan Tai Chi, Dance and Happy Dance! (Pagoda Arts)
1:45 – 2pm Martial Arts Demonstration (Liverpool Hung Gar Kung Fu Friendship Association)
2:05 – 2:25pm Traditional Chinese Fan Dance & Cheongsam Costume Show (Wah Sing Community Centre Dancers)
2:35 – 2:45pm Chinese Red Lantern Dance (Friendship Dancers)
2:50 – 3:20pm 24 Festival Drums (Liverpool Guild of Students)
3:30 – 4pm Chinese Fusion Dance Workshop – have a go! (Movema Dance)
16:00 – 5pm A showcase of traditional and contemporary music, dance and song by Chinese students (Everyman and Playhouse and Liverpool Confucius Institute)
5 – 5:30pm Terracotta Warriors Love – A performance inspired by the fusion of Chinese Opera, Martial arts and contemporary dance. (Pagoda Arts, Everyman and Playhouse and Liverpool Confucius Institute).
5:30 – 6pm Chinese Fusion Dance (Movema Dance & 24 Festival Drums, Liverpool Guild of Students)
Chinese Arch/Nelson Street
6.30pm Chinese New Year lumiere – Jingwei’s Legacy
6.40pm Pyrotechnic display
6.45pm Event ends
The event is organised by Liverpool City Council and is supported by the University of Liverpool, Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool ONE, Stagecoach, Pagoda Arts, First Take, Arts Council England and the COoL Collective.
For more information about timings, activities, family workshops or the projections, visit www.chinadreamliverpool.com or follow @culturelpool on Twitter or Culture Liverpool on Facebook.
Bill Addy, chief executive, Liverpool BID Company, one of the key sponsors of the Liverpool 2018 culture programme, said: “This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations are set to be the biggest the city has ever witnessed, and not only showcases Liverpool at its best, but firmly puts our BID levy payers at the heart of the action. We expect the businesses up and down Bold Street in particular – one of the iconic BID areas, and a thriving independent retail and leisure hub – to see a positive impact thanks to the extra crowds these events are expected to draw in. As one of the key sponsors of the 2018 culture campaign, we encourage as many people as possible to come and make these celebrations a success.
“Again, it’s also exciting to work with Kazimier Productions, whose “Follow the Star” light commission brought some added magic to the BID areas in the run up to Christmas. We look forward to seeing what they have up their sleeve this time around.”
Donna Howitt, marketing director at Liverpool ONE, said: “This is such a special celebration in the city’s rich and diverse events calendar. It’s an occasion we see lots of families come together to enjoy.
“With performances, lanterns and music to look forward to, Chinese New Year in Liverpool is a chance to showcase our city’s historical cultural connections.”
To celebrate Chinese New Year, World Museum will also be hosting free drop in family-friendly activities throughout Saturday 10 February from 10am – 4pm, including lion dancing, lion dancing, a calligraphy workshop, traditional Chinese opera performances and re-enactments of the fighting techniques possibly used by the First Emperor’s real army. Delivered by the Liverpool School of Cantonese Kung Fu. The Museum will also be hosting a Chinese lantern workshop on Sunday 11 February from 1 – 4pm, in preparation for the Chinese lantern festival on 2 March, when lanterns traditionally decorate the streets of China, in each house and store. In the parks, lanterns of different shapes and designs attract countless visitors. Discover the history and skill of making Chinese lanterns and make your own to take away with you and celebrate the coming of spring.