Thursday, 31 March 2011


The decorated streets of Southampton became busier by the second on Sunday 6th February. The air was scented by burning incense from the newly refurbished Guildhall Square and the Chinese New Year Festival started gloriously to celebrate the new year of the Golden Rabbit.

Mayor of Southampton Councillor Carol Cunio started off the exciting festivities by performing the traditional ritual of Dim Jing, the dotting of the lion’s eye that brings them to life in order for the festival to commence. Despite the windy weather, the ritual finished with hundreds of firecrackers exploding in the middle of the square to keep away any evil spirits in the skies as the rest of the festival was soon well underway.

Mayor Carol Cunio said: “Year after year this event has such a good response and is very popular. It definitely says a lot about Southampton’s culture today and how it has progressed throughout the years.”

“I especially love how all the children get involved and it is just not the Chinese community, it really makes it a fun multicultural event.”

Several celebrations were also performed by six beautiful Chinese Princess’, the Waterside Dragon Dance Club who performed a lion dance, dragon and unicorn dance and martial arts displays in front of 4,000 people who watched at Guildhall Square.

For the 6th Year running, the Chinese New Year Festival has taken place in Southampton’s city centre organised by Southampton City Council, Southampton Chinese Association and Waterside Dragon Club. The event was supported by Grosvenor Casino, Yau Brothers, Zen Japanese Bar and Restaurant, Royal Wok, Chinatown Oriental Supermarkets, Golden Palace Chinese Restaurants, Ocean Dragon Chinese Restaurant, WuTan Kung Fu School and Southampton City Centre Management.

The Chinese Association of Southampton has been established for 9 years and has over 100 dedicated members. The association aims to promote and celebrate the Chinese art, culture and traditions and improve the livelihood of the Chinese community in Southampton. Every year they are dedicated to the Chinese New Year Festival of Southampton.

For Professor Zhao Youngren, Vice-President for the London based Chinese Embassy; it was his first time attending the Chinese Festival and said: “It is such a happy time as we are celebrating the New Year and the huge turnout is much appreciated. It is a good way for us to be able to promote our culture by having such a multicultural event, I think it is fantastic how everybody gets involved.”
“We have a good relation with England and this is a fantastic way to celebrate such a good event and I wish a Happy New Year of the Rabbit to everyone, it will be a good year.”

The dragon parade left the square along with 10,000 people in tow and continued the festivities through Above Bar towards the Chinese Market that took place in the busy city centre. Peal Coici, a stallholder in the Chinese Market said: “This event is lovely and I enjoyed having a stall here last year so much that I decided to come back. It is nice to see so many families come out and enjoy the New Year.”

The parade continued to West Quay Shopping Centre where several demonstrations were performed for the hundreds of onlookers crammed in West Quay. The exciting atmosphere and parade continued along the route to the Grosvenor Casino.

China’s population has increased by 10% in the last year, currently making it the second largest inhabited country in the world today. Southampton’s sister China city Qingdao was mentioned within the celebrations by Professor Zhao Youngren as ‘a good solid friendly relationship and may it continue to thrive’.

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