Atmospheric hopping at Ulster Hall as the Chinese Year of the Rabbit in Belfast

Chinese New Year celebrations were held in Belfast.

Today’s event at Ulster Hall was the first of its kind since the pandemic.

Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is celebrated by millions of people around the world.

This is the Year of the Rabbit and the celebrations mark the transition from the Year of the Tiger 2022.

With Belfast’s growing diversity, Chinese culture and lucky rabbits weren’t the only features of the celebrations.

After audiences were wowed by boldly dancing lions and stealthy fluttering dragons courtesy of the talented performers of Success Lion Dance, the venue was filled with the sights and sounds of other cultures.

From African music getting people on their feet to the lights turning green to mark the entry of the long-haired Irish dancers, the 860 spectators were treated to a spectacular show.


Chinese Consul General at NI Zhang Meifang (centre).

VIPs at the event included Deputy Mayor of Belfast Michelle Kelly and Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China Madame Zhang Meifang.

After the dragon and lion dance, Ms. Kelly said to the crowd, “Those born in the year of the rabbit are revered as one of the happiest signs of the Chinese zodiac, and I hope you will all have good luck this year.


A woman performs a Chinese sword dance

“You may have noticed last night that we had the absolute honor of lighting up Belfast City Hall in red to show our pride and support for the Chinese New Year.

“The Chinese community in Northern Ireland is one of our largest and most established minority communities, playing a large part in economic, educational, cultural and social life.

“It is absolutely fantastic to see Belfast’s growing diversity of communities sharing this festival and actually becoming an integral part of today’s event.


An African dancer at the event

“It’s wonderful that this year we can now return to meeting in person and celebrating together.”

Carrying a stuffed rabbit, Madame Zhang walked onto the stage and greeted the audience in English and Mandarin.

“Happy Chinese New Year. The Chinese traditional festival, the Spring Festival, is perhaps the most celebrated, the most important traditional Chinese festival, meaning reunification, harmony and happiness,” she began.


A Chinese dragon dance takes place during the event. Image by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“According to the Chinese Lunar New Year, this year happens to be the year of the rabbit that I am keeping here, which symbolizes auspiciousness, vitality and lots of success.

“I’m sure that today’s great performances will give you a glimpse of Chinese culture and I’m sure you can enjoy and appreciate it,” added Madame Zhang.

After that, those who were at Ulster Hall hailed a great day.


A Chinese dragon dance takes place during the event. Image by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Ann McGregor, said: “What really surprised me was how cross-community the whole thing was.

“I would have expected it to be a Chinese celebration, but they share that with the whole community.

“We have the African community, the Japanese community, the Irish and the Ulster Scots. So it was a really great future event together.”

Joshua Wan said: “It’s just a lovely time of year to get together with family for a bite to eat.

“Spending time together, that’s what it’s about.”

Ricardo Azevedo said he enjoys meeting so many different people.

“I think it’s great to bring many different cultures together. Showing a bit of what they do, showing their culture and bringing a lot of people together to see the celebrations,” he added. Atmospheric hopping at Ulster Hall as the Chinese Year of the Rabbit in Belfast

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