Chinese New Year celebrations are set to return to Birmingham next month as a date has been set for East Asian cultural festivities to take place in the city centre.

The Chinese Festival Committee Birmingham have announced the city’s Lunar New Year celebrations will be held in Southside and Bullring & Grand Central in January.

Festivities will start with a packed programme of performances on Saturday 21 January, continuing in Southside on Sunday 22 January with song and dance, family activities, and food stalls.

The Sunday programme will celebrate the official first day of the Year of the Rabbit and mark a welcomed return to Southside after three years, with the newly redeveloped Hippodrome Square at the heart of the event.

A dragon weaves through the crowds in Southside during the Chinese New Year celebrations in BirminghamRangzeb Hussain
A dragon weaves through the crowds in Southside during the Chinese New Year celebrations in Birmingham

Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year celebrations of the East Asian cultural sphere occur on the same date across the region, on the new moon, which occurs in late January or early February, and are based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Although occurring on the same new moon day, celebrations are unique to their own cultures, each with its interpretations, zodiacs and traditions.

Lunar new year is the grandest ancient traditional festival in China, commonly known as “Guo Nian”. This festival means the beginning of spring and the arrival of the new year. The customs of Chinese lunar new year include sticking Spring Festival couplets, buying New Year’s goods, and having family dinner together.

Chinese New Year customs vary across China, but you’re almost always guaranteed to see “Hong Bao” being passed around, which traditionally, sees people stuff red envelopes with cash to be exchanged at gatherings during this festive period.

Lanterns on display to mark Chinese New Year Red Morley Hewitt
Lanterns on display to mark Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year greetings

Although greetings will vary across the various East Asian nations and communities marking Lunar New Year, there are some popular greetings common among those celebrating Chinese New Year.

“Xīn nián kuài lè” simply means “Happy New Year”, while “Gōng xǐ fā cái”  can translate to “Wishing you wealth and prosperity” in Chinese. Amongst phrases more common in western countries, “Gong Hei Fa Choi” is Cantonese for “Happy New Year”.

You might also want to try “Cái yuán gǔn gǔn” which loosely translates to “May wealth come pouring in”, “Nián nián yǒu yú” which expresses ” May you have abundance every year”, and “Xīn xiǎng shì chéng” which means “May all your wishes come true”.

Arts and crafts will also be taking place during Chinese New Year celebrations in BirminghamSimon Hadley / Birmingham Hippodrome
Arts and crafts will also be taking place during Chinese New Year celebrations in Birmingham

Inclusive celebrations

James Wong, Chair of the Chinese Festival Committee Birmingham said: “We’re thrilled to bring Lunar New Year festivities back to Southside in 2023. As you may have spotted, the name of the event is different from previous years; we have made this change to recognise communities across the world who celebrate the Lunar New Year alongside our Chinese community.

“We have created a fantastic programme of events with our co-producer, Birmingham Hippodrome, which will delight all visitors to the city, more details will be shared soon!

“We’d like to thank our sponsors and partners and look forward to the city-wide celebrations next month, alongside Bullring & Grand Central.”

Danielle Bozward, Marketing Manager at Bullring & Grand Central said: “We’re excited to build on the success of the festivities in 2022 by bringing firm favourites back to the city centre and working in partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome.

“We can’t wait to welcome in the Year of the Rabbit and celebrate with everyone.”

Sponsored by Uber Eats in association with Southside District and The Arcadian and Birmingham Hippodrome, organisers will announce the full Lunar New Year 2023 programme in January.

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