Liverpool marks Chinese New Year with its biggest celebrations yet

World Today

It’s not only those in China who have been celebrating the Spring Festival. The city of Liverpool in England – home to the oldest Chinatown in Europe – has welcomed the Chinese New Year in grand style. CGTN’s Richard Bestic reports.

There’s been a Chinatown in Liverpool dating back to the early 1800’s. From the earliest days of Sino-UK trade, sailors would jump ship and set-up in business.

“The sailors were mainly Shanghai or Malaysian Chinese,” explained Colin Ling of the Chinese Wellbeing Charity. “And they came here, jumped ship, saw the need for providing food, accommodation and laundry services for their fellow countrymen when they docked in the city, and so started to set up little businesses.”

Although Chinatown’s now a destination for tourists, down through the centuries the descendants of those early Chinese sailors are today successful business leaders and proud Liverpudlians.

“We need to broadcast ourselves that Liverpool is good, because we tend to hear bad news about Liverpool, but Liverpool is a wonderful city,” said Grace Liu a Chinese restaurant owner.

In terms of numbers, Liverpool’s old Chinatown is a shadow of its former self. Many of the ethnically Chinese population have integrated into the wider population. However, there’s a new reality too, and that is a reinvigorated interest and pride in all things Chinese.

Chinese New Year has always been big in Liverpool’s Chinatown.

But this year, the city says the planned celebrations have been kicked up a gear.

“We’ll have thousands of red lanterns, and also you know a music and sound display as well to accompany that, which will really wow,” said Liverpool City Councillor Wendy Simon. “We always get great numbers out for Chinese New Year, but this year we’re expecting even more.”

And the fun will keep on coming.

China’s famous Terracotta Warriors are the centerpiece of an eight-month China Dream project. An exhibition of modern Chinese art – billed as a window into contemporary China – brings things up-to-date.

As Lindsay Taylor of the “Window into China” art exhibition puts it, “Really just how interesting and diverse Chinese contemporary art is. I mean, I think we’re in the Chinese century, it’s really important that we reflect Chinese culture in everything we do – in our art institutions, our museums our galleries.”