Manchester will be celebrating the Year of the Rabbit this weekend with the return of its legendary Dragon Parade after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
Headlining this year’s celebrations, the popular parade - which attracts thousands of visitors - will take place this Sunday (22 January). Weaving its way through the city’s streets, the 175ft Chinese dragon will be accompanied by traditional lion and ribbon dancers, Chinese Opera performers, twelve Zodiac animals and Ancient Army characters.
In a new route for 2023, the dragon will perform outside Manchester Central at 12pm before making its journey via Mount Street - Peter Street - Oxford Street - Portland Street - Princess Street and Faulkner Street to Chinatown which is celebrating the lunar new year with a live performance stage, fun fair, Chinese arts and crafts and street food stalls from 12pm – 7pm, and also two glittering illuminated night dragon performances at 5pm & 6pm.
This year’s celebrations, organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM), in partnership with Manchester Business Improvement District and the council, also sees the return of thousands of traditional red lanterns to brighten the city’s streets over the Chinese New Year period, along with a week-long residency of traditional street food stalls in the city’s Piccadilly Gardens from Saturday 21 – Sunday 29 January.
The week of celebrations will end with a final performance from the illuminated night dragon to close this year’s festivities at 5pm on Sunday 29 January in Piccadilly Gardens.
Lisa Yam, President of the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM) said: “I’m very happy this year as we will welcome the return of the Dragon Parade. It has been two years since we have been able to wake up the dragon to bless the city. The Year of the Rabbit is sure to be a great year for us all.”
There are lots of free activities happening both in Chinatown and across the city on Sunday to help celebrate the new year, along with plenty of chances to catch a glimpse of the magnificent dragon, which never fails to excite the crowds, as it makes its way through the streets to help Manchester welcome the Year of the Rabbit.
Venues celebrating the Lunar New Year in the city include Manchester Central Library which is hosting a Chinese New Year Celebration for families from 12-4pm on Sunday 22 January with free crafts, Chinese performances, workshops and face painting; Ducie Street Warehouse - where visitors can celebrate Chinese New Year creatively with a Chinese Brush Painting workshop on the 22nd January from 2 - 4.30pm (booking required, aged 16+); and Manchester Art Gallery where young visitors can take part in rabbit-themed crafts, decorate a cake with Chinese calligraphy, or pick up a sketch book and pencil and explore the gallery on a special bunny-themed trail (11 am - 3:30 pm).
Councillor Pat Karney, Chinese New Year lead for the city council, said: "It's brilliant to be back celebrating a traditional Chinese New Year again in Manchester - the first chance since 2020 for the whole city to come together with our friends, colleagues, and others from within the Chinese community to mark this important date in the Chinese calendar.
"As well as the spectacular Dragon Parade there are lots of other free activities happening both in Chinatown and across the city to help welcome in the Year of the Rabbit - so come on down and get involved!"
Jane Sharrocks, Manchester Business Improvement District Chair and General Manager of Selfridges Exchange Square said: “This is the eighth consecutive year we’ve partnered with the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester on the city’s Chinese New Year celebrations – some of the best and brightest in Europe! We’ve adorned the city with thousands of traditional red lanterns once again for 2023 to help welcome in the Year of the Rabbit and we’re delighted see the return of the Dragon Parade which is always a real crowd pleaser and highlight of the celebrations.”
The Dragon Parade Performance and Parade times for this Sunday 21 January are as follows:
12pm-12.30pm: Performances, outside Manchester Central
12.30pm-1.15pm: Dragon Parade, Manchester Central to Chinatown
1.15pm: Dragon Parade, arrives at Chinatown
1.15pm-1.45pm: Performances, Faulkner Street Car Park, Chinatown
*Please note, all timings are approximate.