Monday, 30 January 2012

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Manchester

Happy New Year to all those who celebrated it last week! We decided to take the short trip into Manchester yesterday to see what was on offer in terms of celebration. Unfortunately we missed most of the events as we turned up late evening but I understand there were some amazing performances in Albert Square.

We however ventured into Chinatown and were hit swarm of madness -fairground rides, stalls, burger vans... not exactly of Chinese tradition! To be fair (but I could be wrong) Manchester Events & Planning doesn't actually organise Chinese New Year and so you take what you get around this time of year. Moving closer towards the main square however things became more traditional. Buildings and lampposts were decorated with lanterns and strings of lights. The Chinese bakeries and restaurants had remained open for the occasion, spilling their delicious smelling food out onto the streets by way of temporary stalls. Of course, every gift, toy and food shop was open too, although I didn't fancy competing with the rush of visitors inside the small overstocked shops. (Apologies for the blurry pics but I had to make do with my phone as I had left my camera at home.)

Lovely shot of the rubbish piling in the street, on top of an over-flowing bin.

 We were lucky enough to encounter the Chinese Dragons (something I missed a few years ago during my last visit) as they disappeared in and out of every doorway, making it's way around all the shops, restaurants, massage parlours and even lap dancing bars in Chinatown. I hope the patrons were prepared for that invasion! I'm sure the dragons must have knocked over a few chairs and tables as they danced around, those costumes weren't made for being graceful.

The Chinese Dragons exiting from a Thai Restaurant after visiting the Lap Dancing Bar next door.

 The Chinese Dragons were accompanied by an small entourage of four people with plastic black poles who moved the crowd out of the way as they erratically made their way through Chinatown, cris-crossing over the street so much that nobody knew where to stand to avoid being in the way - a logistical nightmare for those with prams and small children. The whole thing was very confusing especially when the road came to a sudden end...

We still don't know why this road was closed. Nothing was happening and the crowd continued to build behind us, unaware that we had been prevented from going any further. After a patient (and very British) wait of 5 minutes someone eventually asked a security guard what was going on. His response? "I don't know, we were just asked to stand here. I don't know why anybody is gathering round here anyway, the fireworks are on the other side of this building, you won't see them from here." After spreading the word, the crowd behind us dispersed in enough time for us to get round to the front of the fireworks display next to the Chinatown Gate.

The fireworks, like the whole celebration, wasn't co-ordinated very well but it was nice to watch, and to the organiser's credit, the fireworks did last for a full 15 minutes which I would say is pretty damn good for a free event.
I recorded a few videos but unfortunately our view was obscured by some trees and people in large fluffy hats (it was sooo cold last night, my feet were actually numb!) Below is the fireworks finale, I'm not sure why this video has turned out so small but it does feature a lovely goodbye from our host - "I wish you all the best and make a safe home journey".

I will upload some more videos later when Firefox stops being daft.

It was freezing cold so the crowd quickly disbanded and we sat in The Bank to warm up and have a drink or two before making our way home.

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