Celebrations for the largest festival in the Asian calendar, Chinese New Year, are well under way at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre.

Nottingham’s Chinese New Year celebrations were initially organised by Broxtowe Borough Council twelve years ago.

Its success highlighted the potential to expand and so the festival was moved to Highfields Park. The move coincided with the opening of the University of Nottingham’s Chinese campus in Ningbo, a historic city on China’s eastern coast close to Shanghai.

Video: A traditional Lion Dance opens the festival

Director of Lakeside Arts, Shona Powell, visited China and met contemporary choreographer Rong Tao.

After being blown away by Rong Tao’s work, Shona Powell invited him to share his practices with Lakeside. Since then a residency programme has been set up and this year will be his sixth visit.

Shona believes it is important to take part in the festival, she says:

“There are thousands of Chinese students in our city. It feels like absolutely the right thing to do to reflect the many different cultures within our community in our programming”

This year also welcomes brush painter Jiang Hongsheng, who is based at the campus in Ningbo. He runs the academy, known as Red Peony, in which he invites people to learn about Chinese culture through the art of brush painting.

Traditional Chinese Painting by Jiang Hongsheng
Traditional Chinese Painting by Jiang Hongsheng

While in the UK, people who take part in his brush painting workshops are invited to add to a 100m scroll of peonies, which will be a gift that he will leave with the city.

Lakeside Arts is working with Chinese Students and Scholars Association as well as Nottingham Confucius Institute to build a programme that will share skills that the Chinese students and staff have brought with them.

During the festivities there will be chances to learn paper folding, the intricate art form of paper cutting, the fascinating art strokes of calligraphy and brush painting with Jiang Hongsheng.

After events held by the City Council, Gedling Borough Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council and Broxstowe Borough Council throughout the week, celebrations will culminate in a beautiful fireworks display on Sunday 14th February at 6pm in Highfields Park.