COME Chinese New Year it’s often hard to drag us out of the Yang Sing even for a Dragon Parade (sic). It’s that annual reminder (as if we needed one) of how delicious dim sum and crispy dick with pancakes can be can be – infinitely preferable to a lantern-making workshop for ToM’s cack-handed crew.
Still thousands of folk will be thronging Manchester city centre for a fun-packed ‘Year of the Rat’ weekend (January 24-26) with EXTRA DRAGON promised.
Making its debut, each evening a spectacular illuminated dragon dance will light up Chinatown. Performances take place at 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm Friday and Saturday with a 5.30pm show on Sunday, all at the NCP car park, Faulkner Street and free.
There’s a new route for 2020 for the Dragon Parade proper on Sunday 26. It starts at 12.30pm from outside Manchester Central Library in St Peter’s Square. The 175ft dragon will be accompanied by lion and ribbon dancers, Chinese opera performers, giant Buddha dolls and the Chinese Scout parade as it weaves its way through the city’s red lantern-decked streets.
Follow the dragon as it makes its way from St Peter’s Square down Peter Street to Oxford Street onto Portland Street before heading down Princess Street and into the heart of Chinatown for 2pm. Full of dim sum, we’ll stagger out before the spectacular fireworks finale at 6pm.
Final dragon spoiler: Manchester’s 50ft glittering golden dragon will make a welcome return to St Ann’s Square (10am-6pm), ready for snaps and selfies. Share yours using #ChineseNewYearMCR.
Celebrations in Chinatown will be bigger than ever, extending across all three days from 12-8pm on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 and 11am-8pm on Sunday. Visitors can try their hand at Chinese arts & crafts, sample traditional Chinese cuisine from food and drink stalls and enjoy a ride on the funfair.
On Saturday and Sunday head to the stage on Faulkner Street from 12-5pm and enjoy performances from lion dancers, acrobats, singers and dancers, alongside Chinese poem reading and kung fu demonstrations.
Throughout there’s also free family-friendly workshops and events at a variety of venues, including Manchester Central Library, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Arndale and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), along with themed product showcases at many city centre shops.
Manchester Arndale will be transformed into a hive of creative workshops for families. Join teachers from Manchester Confucius Institute, who will spend the day introducing children and their parents to the Chinese zodiac and Chinese paper folding, then use these newly learnt skills to make your own paper rat. Children can also create and enjoy zodiac wheels and tattoos to welcome the Year of the Rat.
The New Year celebrations are organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM), Manchester City Council and Manchester’s Business Improvement District (Manchester BID). Check out Visit Manchester’s comprehensive guide.
Chinese New Year in Spinningfields
Head to Hardman Square where a dazzling, neon sign will be illuminating a good-will message (visit on 24 January to receive a fortune cookie and have your name painted in Chinese). And do the red lanterns look quite as stunning elsewhere? There will also be the opportunity to celebrate Chinese New Year high above Manchester, with two courses and a mini Moët for £28.50, or three courses for £33.50, at 20 Stories.
Yang Sing celebrates the Year of the Rat with food
From Thursday, January 23 to Sunday 26 the Princess Street Cantonese restaurant will treat all visitors to lucky red envelopes and diners will be able to pre-order celebratory dishes such as Poon Choi (a lavish casserole of chicken, fish and much more) and Prosperity Toss (raw fish, grated veg and condiments mixed like a salad).
And on Sunday 26 from 12pm there’ll be a five course New Year banquet, featuring traditional dishes such as ta eggs, prosperity toss, steamed dumplings, sizzling beef with ginger and spring onion, the classic crispy duck with pancakes, and lemon chilli sea bass. Guests will also be entertained with a live private lion dance and martial arts demo. All for £45 a head.
It really is the boom season for lion dancers. Where do they find them all? City Tower on York Street is hosting its own leonine-led celebration on Thursday, January 23 from 12pm-1pm in the mall leading to Piccadilly Gardens.