Plans being made for next year’s Chinese New Year in Sunderland

Credit: Sophie Dishman and Stela Taneva.

Plans for next year’s Chinese New Year event in Sunderland are already being made. 

Harry Collinson and Ian Wong, the co-creators of this year’s Keel Square Chinese celebration, have confirmed that they are working on plans for the Year of the Chicken next year.

Around 3000 people turned up to mark the Year of the Monkey in Sunderland’s Keel Square on February 7, to enjoy a full programme of entertainment.

The idea for the event came about “around about four and a half months ago,” said Mr Collinson, owner of Rough Diamond Entertainment in Sunderland.

He added: “They [Newcastle] are in their 30th year, so that’s what propelled us to do this first year.

“There were a few challenges with the weather but families still came out in force and had an amazing time,” he said.

 “Everyone entered into the spirit of the day and enjoyed the dragons and lion dancing and we’ve already been asked by lots of people if we are going to do it again next year – and we definitely will.”

Owner of Asiana Fusion restaurant Mr Wong added: “It’s a shame that Sunderland didn’t have anything like this to start off with.

“As lots of our meetings go over a beer, it was one of the better ideas that was brought from the meetings.

“It feels pretty amazing [to have started the first Chinese New Year event in Sunderland].

“We are not here to leave a legacy, we’re here to start something rolling and, hopefully, keep it going for many years to come.”

The Sunderland Chinese New Year was held on Sunday (February 7) in Keel Square, where hundreds of Wearsiders attended.

But due to strong winds and low temperatures the event had to finish earlier.

The stage was also in danger of collapsing meaning the celebrations had to be postponed in the middle of the event.

Attendees were asked to wait while safety measures were put in place.

The Year of the Monkey was brought into Sunderland with traditional Chinese music, dancing and the infamous dragon and lions.

People were also treated to a Qi Lin dance, also known as the Chinese unicorn, as well as songs from St Anthony’s RC Primary School singing songs in Mandarin.

The Sunderland-wide celebrations were also supported by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID).

Chief Executive of Sunderland BID Ken Dunbar said: “It’s a fantastic way to celebrate the multi-cultural dimensions of the city.

“[We have] thousands of Chinese students and residents here and we want to make sure we celebrate the best of what we’ve got here.

“What we know is more and more multi-cultural events attract a wider Sunderland audience and that’s why we want to do more of them.”

“It was a brilliant event which brought lots of people into the city on Sunday and so also meant a great boost for retailers,” he said.

“We are delighted it was such a success and that the city got the opportunity to celebrate other cultures.

“It’s great news that the plan is now to repeat the event on an even bigger scale next year.

“There is quite a large Chinese community in Sunderland, which is growing every year with the arrival of more Chinese students.”

The event ended with both creators wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Credit: Sophie Dishman and Stela Taneva.

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