Hoppy New Year!

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The Year of the Rabbit is now officially underway.

And one Chinese New Year celebration in Sunderland is going from strength to strength.

YOU won’t see a lion dancing in Wearside very often, but on Monday night 200 people gathered to watch just that.

Chinese dancing lion head in golden color

Chinese dancing lion head in golden color

 In a night to welcome in the Chinese New Year, guests gathered at the Quayside Exchange to see traditional dancing, singing and performances from the University of Sunderland and Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

 Vince Robson, business development manager at the University, said: “We’ve been running the event for a number of years now as a celebration of Chinese culture.

 “The aim is to bring students and staff together to promote an inclusive community message across the university. And, of course, we are marking an important event in the Chinese calendar.

 “The event has grown and grown over the past five years, and now we get more than 200 people coming along. People expect us to do it, and they’re looking out for the party.”

 Love songs, opera singing, elaborate dancing and Chinese food were just some of the evenings highlights.

 And celebrations were crowned with a traditional lion dance, performed by the UK Choi Lee Fut Kung Fu Dragon and Lion Association.

 The dance involves performers mimicking a lion’s movements in a special costume.

 The story goes that once upon a time a monk had a dream in which evil was plaguing his land.

 The monk prayed and asked the gods how he could stop this from happening. The gods told him that a lion would protect the people and fight back the evils.

 The Chinese people had never see a lion before, but had heard stories that the lion was the king of all the other animals, so the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals he could think of and made a lion.