Chinese New Year celebrations in Sunderland hailed a success as city welcomes Year of the Rat

Sunderland’s Chinese New Year celebrations have been hailed a success as families gathered despite the drab weather to welcome in the Year of the Rat.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 2:43 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 5:20 pm

Scores of people gathered to watch the colourful and intricate dragon dance on the steps of Sunderland Museum which began a day of cultural celebrations.

Although Chinese New Year itself falls on January 25, it is celebrated up to two weeks after that date.

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Chinese New Year celebrations in Mowbray Park and the Museum & Winter Gardens, on Sunday.

Some celebrations in other parts of the country have been cancelled but organisers in Sunderland have reassured the public that, while people have a right to be concerned about the outbreak, there is still an ‘extremely low risk’.

Drizzly and wet conditions meant most of the activities were moved inside but that didn’t stop the festivities.

Ian Wong, event organiser, said: “The turnout has been better than expected. Yes the whole virus thing is very serious and people are concerned and they have a right to be concerned however the level of concern should be very very minimal.

“We spoke to Public Health just to see what the situation is and we’re still at an extremely low risk so there’s no need to be.

Organisers, civic dignitaries and the dragon.

“It's great to celebrate here in Sunderland because it give everyone, especially the local community, a chance to experience the Chinese culture.”

Sharon Appleby, of Sunderland BID, added: “I think particularly around cultural events like this it’s a great opportunity for people to learn about a different culture, something that is really important and very engaging and it’s something that's interesting for everybody not just children.”

Performances will include traditional lion dancing and martial arts demonstrations as well as a variety of arts and crafts.

Angie Athey, 41, watched the dragon dance with her three-year-old son Sam. She said: “We thought it was excellent. My little boy loves dragons so we thought it would be great to bring him down. He absolutely loved it.”

The dragon dance.

Tara O’Connor, 33, who travelled from Newcastle with husband Chris, 34, and their 18-month-old son Teddy, said: “I thought it was really good. We just thought it would be something nice to come along and do.”

Musicians during the dragon dance performance.