Communities and venues across County Durham are preparing to welcome the Year of the Rabbit with a host of traditional events and activities.

Durham City will be celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday, 21 January with activities, performances, and entertainment from a variety of different groups, organised by Durham County Council.

A lion dance procession, organised by Durham Markets Company, will wind its way from Millennium Place through the city centre at 12.30pm, entertaining shoppers with a colourful display and a special appearance by the junior dragon dance team from West Rainton Primary School.

lion dance procession

At Durham Town Hall, visitors can enjoy a full day of activities including traditional music, costume and dance performances by Durham Chinese School, Durham University students and local schoolchildren.

There will also be a demonstration of Tai Chi, opportunities to take part in East Asian crafts, and a catwalk show of traditional Chinese costumes.

For those with a taste for something different, students from New College Durham will be cooking up a number of oriental dishes for visitors to try, and there will be a tea tasting ceremony to experience in the afternoon.

Clayport Library will also be sharing in the New Year celebrations, with the opportunity to learn Mandarin with students from the university. Drop in to one of these sessions to pick up some useful words and phrases.

And primary schools across the county have been coached by international student volunteers from the university to create special performances to demonstrate their knowledge of Lunar New Year traditions.

performance in traditional dress

The volunteers have been working with pupils at Wingate Primary School, Finchale Primary School, Shincliffe Primary School, Lanchester EP Primary School and Langley Moor Primary School.

The Oriental Museum will also be hosting a Year of the Rabbit Lantern Festival on Sunday, 5 February, from 6pm to 8pm, with festive snacks, a live traditional Korean percussion performance and dragon dancing for children. Visitors will also have the opportunity to take part in naming the red dragon at the museum. Tickets can be booked online on Eventbrite.

Professor Claire O’Malley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) at Durham University, said: 

“We’re delighted to work closely with local partners to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. We have staff and students from over 120 countries at the university, and we value the opportunities this brings to experience and celebrate different cultures and perspectives, creating a diverse and vibrant community.”

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “To celebrate the Year of the Rabbit and the Lunar New Year join us in Durham City for a fun-filled, affordable day out for the whole family. 

“Lunar New Year is a great opportunity to experience the different cultures and traditions we have here in County Durham. There will be plenty of activities to try and a guaranteed fun and vibrant atmosphere.”

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