Sunderland to welcome in Year of the Monkey with spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations

Ian Wong and Harry Collinson have been working together to hold Chinese New Year celebrations in Sunderland for the Year of the Monkey
Ian Wong and Harry Collinson have been working together to hold Chinese New Year celebrations in Sunderland for the Year of the Monkey
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Sunderland will celebrate the Year of the Monkey in style with the city staging its first ever Chinese New Year celebrations.

Dragons and traditional lion dancing will feature in a packed programme of events in Keel Square on Sunday, February 7.

City businessmen Harry Collinson, who Rough Diamond Entertainment, and Ian Wong, who runs Asiana restaurant, have worked for months to bring together the event.

Mr Wong said that "the time was right to have a sizeable celebration in the city for Chinese New Year."

He added: "There is quite a large Chinese community in Sunderland, which is growing every year with the arrival of more Chinese students.

"There are big celebrations for Chinese New Year in other parts of the North East and we felt that Sunderland definitely needed to have one of their own."

The event will run from 1pm to 5pm and will include martial arts displays and lion and dragon dancing, with more events to be added to the programme.

The programme is being supported by Sunderland’s Business Improvement District and Chief Executive, Ken Dunbar, said he was "delighted" that the city was holding such an exciting event.

Mr Dunbar added: "Chinese New Year celebrations take place all over the world and it’s great news to see that Sunderland are now able to be part of that.

"It’s a great opportunity not just for a family day out in the city centre but also for people to learn more about other cultures. We hope that this will now become an annual event on the Sunderland calendar."

Mr Collinson said: "Everyone we’ve talked to has been very keen for this to go ahead, including the University of Sunderland, schools, the city council and of course the Chinese businesses in the city. It should be a fantastic day."

Activities are also planned the day prior to the event at Sunderland’s Museum and Winter Gardens, which will host a family fun day on February 6 with events including Chinese lantern making and stalls selling Chinese crafts.

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, welcomed the plans, adding: "It’s great to work with passionate, local business people like Ian and Harry to be able to stage a weekend of activities like this.

"We have strong links with China through our Friendship Agreement with the city of Harbin and our international student community is very important to us.

"It is great to be able to showcase Chinese culture and traditions in our city centre to welcome the Year of the Monkey."