Monday, February 07, 2011
Chinese New Year Celebrations
Sunday saw the annual Chinese New Year celebrations around China Town, Soho and Trafalgar Square. After being caught up in a rather scary crush in some of the narrow streets last year, I went primarily to Trafalgar Square.
I think there even more people this year and it's estimated over 300,000 people celebrate the event. Trafalgar Square was packed as were all the pavements and streets around, red lanterns were flying everywhere and stalls were placed around the square. There was the usual stage set up near Nelson's column and various dignitaries made speeches before the firecrackers were lit. The noise was spectacular, made to drive away negative forces for the start of the year of the rabbit.
I was interested in the ritual of dotting the head of the dragon masks, to call in the spirit and bring it to life, and the painting of the eyes to awaken the dragon before the dances began.
A Dragon Dance team from Hong Kong started the dances on poles, very acrobatic, I had found a space in the square to see them which was great and take some photos, and I stayed long enough to see a Mongolian dance group and a singer from Tibet, singing a very evocative song about the land.