Chinese New Year Celebrations

Dancing Lions in Jubilee Square Chinese Opera singer

Maidstone residents turned out in their hundreds on Saturday 5th February, braving the cold to celebrate Chinese New Year and usher in the Year of the Tiger. Cohesion Plus, working in partnership with Maidstone Cultural Group, Kent Equality Cohesion Council and Maidstone Borough Council, arranged the first Chinese New Year celebrations since the onset of the pandemic.

The celebrations began with the dotting of the eyes ceremony, which involved waking the Chinese Lions and was conducted by dignitaries Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Faye Gooch, the Leader of the Council Cllr David Burton, Cllr Martin Round as well as Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus and Michael Lam a member of Maidstone Cultural Group and local business owner.

After the awakening of the lions, the artistic programme began with a procession on Jubilee Square and Week Street, where the lions delighted the large crowds with their mischief. In addition, there were also dazzling performances from the London Chinese Opera Studio who showcased a performance of the Emperor’s Concubine as well as the SOAS Chinese Music Ensemble who performed traditional Shanghai Tea Room melodies.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “We are so thankful to the residents of Maidstone who turned out in their multitudes and braved the cold temperatures to celebrate Chinese New Year with us. We are also grateful to our event partners Maidstone Cultural Group and Maidstone Borough Council who worked with us to bring this event together. These are the first Chinese New Year celebrations taking place in the County Town since 2020 and we believe that the event was a wonderful showcase of how arts and culture can bring the diverse communities of the area together. The Year of the Tiger is a significant one as it symbolises strength and the overcoming of darkness which is apt given the past couple of years. We hope to bring the celebrations to Maidstone again next year.”

Cllr Martin Round Chair of the Economic, Regeneration and Leisure Committee said: “The event certainly put smiles on plenty of people’s faces and I could see the excitement and pleasure especially in the many children present. That is exactly why this Council intends to work on ensuring we have more of these types of events in the Borough, where we can boost the interest, joy and visits to our Borough’s towns and villages, both for local residents and for wider visitor and tourism benefits.”

Maidstone Borough Council has recently been allocated funding from the Welcome Back Fund, part of £56 million provided to councils across England from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support the safe return to high streets and help build back better from the pandemic. It builds on the £50 million Reopening High Streets Safely Fund (RHSSF) allocated to councils in 2020 and forms part of the wider support government is providing to communities and businesses. A share of this money has been used to fund the Chinese New Year celebrations.

If you weren't able to attend the event, you can watch a short video here

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