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Enter the Dragon!

Plans are under way to stage Liverpool’s biggest-ever Lunar New Year celebrations, not only to welcome in the Year of the Dragon, but also to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s twinning with Shanghai.

Taking place from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 February, for the first time the FREE activities will not only take over the Chinatown area, but they will also bring a festival of colour and sound to the Bombed Out Church (St Luke’s), Liverpool ONE and the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool.

As well as the usual Chinatown takeover which includes traditional dragon, lion and unicorn parades, firecracker displays, family workshops, Tai Chi demonstrations, live music, a fairground and food and craft stalls – Culture Liverpool has commissioned brand new cultural pieces to celebrate Europe’s oldest Chinese community. These will take place in the run up to the main day of celebration on the Sunday, and on the day itself.

They include:

• From Friday 9 to Sunday 11 February, the traditional Chinese story of the Boy and the Pearl will come to life as it’s projected on the Bombed Out Church. Taking place from 6-9pm each night, the projections will transform the building with captivating animation and a newly composed soundscape. The show, which lasts for ten minutes, will run on a loop each evening. The work has been created by Focal Studios, in collaboration with Pagoda, the Bombed Out Church and local artists. To add to the atmosphere, around the church will be wooden dragon installations designed by local schools and community groups.

• Culture Liverpool has teamed up with outdoor art experts Walk The Plank and fiery thrill-seekers Bring The Fire to stage three nights of entertainment at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool. This will see a 25-metre, illuminated dragon floating through the dock system, an exciting fire street theatre featuring dance and martial arts. All activities will run from 5.30-9pm each night – more detailed timings will be announced on Culture Liverpool’s social media channels nearer the time.

• Bring The Fire will also showcase its stunning skills at Chinatown on the Sunday with a mesmerising, fire-finale at 4.30pm on the stage at Great George Square.

• Due to popular demand, even more free family friendly workshops will be available on Sunday 11 – from lantern making sessions, traditional arts and crafts including dragon shadow puppetry, candle making and storytelling – and lots more! Each session will see local artists sharing their skills to inspire creativity. The Mersey Forest team is also getting involved in the workshop action and will stage activities at the Bombed Out Church.

• The Philharmonic Hall’s Music Room will play host to Harmony of the Dragon: A Chinese New Year Gala – an enchanting musical performance including a rendition of ‘Great Race’, a delightful tune associated with the CBBC programme of the same name. This is a ticketed event and all the information can be found on the venue’s website.

Thousands of lanterns will adorn the city centre streets around Chinatown and Liverpool ONE from the beginning of February, and a number of buildings will be illuminated in red in honour of the new year – signifying good fortune and joy to everyone. Some of the locations include Sefton Park Palm House, the Mersey Gateway Bridge, Cunard Building, Liverpool Town Hall, St George’s Hall, the Martin Luther King Building at the Royal Liverpool Albert Dock, Steve Prescott Bridge. Liverpool ONE and the Rotunda.

On Sunday 11 February, activity will take place from 11am to 5pm in and around the Great George Square area, and all the information about what to expect can be found on the official Lunar New Year website.

On Saturday 3 February, excitement is set to build as the Liverpool Hung Gar Kung Fu Friendship Association and award-winning dance company Movema lead a lion parade through the city centre. It will start from Bold Street around midday, travel to Liverpool ONE and then finish at the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool.

Keep up with the latest news by following Culture Liverpool on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Follow the conversation on socials with #LNYLiverpool.

The event has been organised by Liverpool City Council’s Culture Liverpool team in partnership with the Liverpool Chinese Business Association. Those supporting the event are Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, Liverpool ONE, Arts Council England, Canal and River Trust, Liverpool BID Company and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Lunar New Year was formerly known as Chinese New Year. The name has changed to be more inclusive to those communities outside of China which also celebrate the New Year.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Councillor Harry Doyle, said:

“The traditional celebrations have had a bit of a glow-up this year with a brand new name and new locations added which is testament to the scale, popularity and inclusivity of this event.

“In 2023 we welcomed more than 20,000 people on the Sunday alone and it was fantastic to see so many people come together in celebration of our much-loved Chinese community.

“This year it’s bigger and better and we’re delighted that our friends at the Albert Dock are working with us to bring a bit of dragon spirit to their site which will look incredible.

“The day itself is guaranteed to be a real spectacle with a whole host of family-friendly activities which are either free or  low-cost.

“And it’s a fantastic start to this special anniversary year which marks our 25-year relationship with Shanghai. We’re hugely proud of the twinning  and the many cultural exchanges it has resulted in. This will be the first of many events to mark this significant milestone.”

Secretary of Liverpool Chinese Business Association, Ming Wang, said:

“As we say goodbye to the Year of the Rabbit, we welcome the Year of the Dragon – a time which signifies power, success and good fortune.

“Once again, our local Chinese community, Culture Liverpool, and other organisations have worked tirelessly together to arrange a series of arts and cultural events for everyone to enjoy.

“It is guaranteed fun-filled with plenty of activities for children and adults to enjoy. Please come and join the celebrations.”

Sean Morrison, Estate Manager at Royal Albert Dock, said:

“We’re delighted to be a part of this year’s spectacular event celebrating the Lunar New Year. For the first time, we’re welcoming a floating dragon to the dock for what is guaranteed to offer three days of breath-taking performances.

“Let’s embrace the Year of the Dragon with joy, harmony and a celebration that reflects our diverse community and shared heritage.”

Donna Howitt, Place Strategy Director for Liverpool ONE said:

“We are delighted to be part of the city’s celebrations for the Lunar New Year as we embrace the traditions from our various communities in the city.

“At Liverpool ONE, our lantern decorations and activities have become an annual feature, allowing our visitors to join in the celebrations. We wish everyone a prosperous Year of the Dragon.”