Hundreds celebrate Chinese New Year as celebrations return to city after 4 years

Demonstrating Chinese calligraphy <i>(Image: Matthew Norman)</i>
Demonstrating Chinese calligraphy (Image: Matthew Norman)

REVELLERS gathered for a dazzling Chinese New Year celebration with music and dancing for the first time in four years.

Chinese characters etched onto red lanterns, martials arts displays, a dancing lion, stilt walkers, traditional Chinese costumes and a whole lot of delicious food filled Oxford’s Town Hall yesterday, as the China Centre of Oxford put onits first New Year’s event since the pandemic struck.

Stephen Chu, chairman of Oxfordshire Chinese Community and Advice Centre (OCCAC), the organisation behind the event, said: “We are very happy with how the event went; we had many people turn up who enjoyed watching the performances and experiencing the Chinese market.

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“We haven’t been able to hold the event for four years, and even this year we were unsure if it was a good idea because of Covid.

“It’s not easy to get people together again after such a long period of not meeting up for new year, but I am very happy we managed it.”

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Oxford Mail:

Mr Chu said the New Year event has been happening in Oxford Town Hall for 40 years, with the first time being 1992.

Each year is named after one of the 12 animals in sequence in the Chinese zodiac.

This year is the turn of the fourth - the rabbit.

Mr Chu said: “The rabbit is a symbol of peace; I am hoping for a peaceful year ahead, and I wish everyone else a peaceful year too.”

The main hall of the Town Hall was used as a performance space – lined with rows of people watching martials arts routines and opera mask dances.

The neighbouring assembly room became a Chinese market filled with stalls, games and dress up opportunities.

Elyssa Lee, a volunteer in charge of the market, said: “It is tradition to have a market at Chinese New Year.

“The idea was that we wanted to give people a chance to learn about and enjoy our culture.

“We had many fun games for people to play, as well as Chinese calligraphy and the chance to dress up in traditional Chinese robes and pose for a photograph.

“We essentially wanted to create a mini version of a Hong Kong market.”

The event was helped along by 80 volunteers, and took about five months to plan.

The chair of Oxfordshire County Council, the Lord Mayor of Oxford, the Mayor of Bicester and other councillors joined the fun.

The Lunar New Year itself fell seven days before the event.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1