Year of the Rooster celebrations strut into Manchester from 26-29 January, and there’s plenty to crow about
CHRISTMAS has gone, and NYE with it. It’s wet and wintery, the prospect of any more festivities seem depressingly distant and all we have to show for those celebrations past are sadly deflated bank accounts and long queues at the returns desk. Ok, perhaps that’s a tad cynical but it’s hard to argue that January - relatively - is pretty grey. There’s a reason for the term ‘January blues.’
Fortunate, then, while New Year may be over for some of us, for Manchester’s Chinese population it’s still to come -along with a kaleidoscope of events that promise to inject some much-needed colour into these drab days. Waving goodbye to the Year of the Monkey, and ushering in the Year of Rooster, will be all the usual favourites plus a very exciting new addition: The Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors.
To make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve highlighted the five things you’d be mad to miss this month:
LANTERNS OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS | 26-29 January
Unless you’re planning a trip to the famous army’s homeland of Xi’an, it’s doubtful you’ll see anything like these 40 globetrotting warriors anytime soon. Originally commissioned for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games, the illuminated figures - exact replicas of the 8000 clay statues that guard the tomb of China’s First Emperor - have since been exhibited everywhere from Sydney to Shanghai. Their next stop is Manchester, where they’ll be lighting up Exchange Square. Standing two metres tall, more than the average man, Xia Nin’s army - also featuring women and children to represent future and inheritance - promises to be a breathtaking sight to behold.
Exchange Square, 10am-9pm daily
LIVE MUSIC | 26-29 January
Performance is always integral to CNY celebrations and 2017 is no exception. Every day will see a host of free shows in St Ann’s Square, developed by musicians such as Henry Fung. Traditional instruments making an appearance on Saturday 28 - as part of the Confucius Institute’s programme - include Chinese guitar, erhu and zither, whilst genres include folk music written by minorities such as the Mongolians and Tajiks. Ad Solem, the University of Manchester’s Chamber Choir, will be also be performing traditional Chinese New Year songs; as well as three specially-commissioned pieces commemorating the university’s tenth anniversary.
Also courtesy of the Confucius Institute, don’t miss the Chinese Film Forum at HOME.
St Ann’s Square, 12-6pm
STREET FOOD MARKET | 26-29 January
One of China’s most popular imports - amongst the gadgets, clothing and pretty much everything else - remains its food, albeit a slightly westernised version. So, whilst you’re unlikely to find chicken feet and fried insects, the CNY street food market does promise the likes of steamed buns, seafood dumplings and plenty of signature rice dishes - not to mention a family-friendly dim-sum making workshop from Cantonese restaurant Yang Sing, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. Other participating venues include Tampopo, Rice Bowl and Mei Mei’s Street Cart.
St Ann’s Square, 11am-7pm
WORKSHOPS | Saturday 28 January
You’ve listened, eaten and wandered amongst the lantern warriors - but there’s little better way to immerse yourself in Chinese culture then honing your skills in some of its most celebrated disciplines. Free workshops include calligraphy (Virgin Money Lounge, 12pm-4pm), badge and lantern making (Manchester Arndale, Exchange Court, 11am-5pm) and - on the quirkier side - 19th century optical toy making with Suki Chan, whose work will be displayed in CFCCA from 26 January-30 April (Manchester Arndale, 11am-5pm). Also over at CFFCA, artist Joe Ford will be running a cyanotype tote bag printing workshop (Jasmine Suite, 1-4pm: cost £4).
DRAGON PARADE | Sunday 29 January
True to tradition, celebrations culminate with the Dragon Parade. Arriving in Albert Square at midday, accompanied with musical performances, a 175ft dragon and its entourage will leave the square at 1pm to weave their way through the city centre: down Portland Street to their final destination of Chinatown, where there will be live shows and a funfair from 2pm. The evening finishes explosively at 6pm with a fireworks finale over the area: Europe’s third largest Chinatown. Other creatures popping up throughout the weekend include the dancing lion (outside Boots, Market Street: 26-28 January at 1, 2 and 3pm) and the Travelling Light Circus’ giant rooster (Deansgate: 27-28 January).