The UK’s first phoenix parade will kick off the Chinese New Year celebrations in Croydon this weekend.
More than 200 artists, merchants and venues are involved in this two-day festival. Local art galleries and venues such as Turf Projects, Rise Gallery, Click Clock Gallery, Matthews Yard and the Oval Tavern will be offering workshops, Chinese art and photography exhibitions, along with performances on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February.
Michael To, secretary of Friends of the Phoenix Croydon, said: “Chinese New Year is a wonderful time for community and families to come together. We’re doing just that by getting local art galleries, organisations and residents to celebrate Croydon’s art & cultural diversity and to have fun in what is essentially a great big party. Communities are stronger when they are together.”
According to tradition, a lion dance is a must-see at Chinese New Year. Dancers wear masks to resemble mythical beasts, while business owners give the lion a red-envelope to summon good luck in the new year.
Croydon’s lion dance will be performed by dancers from the Shaolin Tai Chi Centre. The first performance begins at 12pm on Sunday 7 February in front of the Whitgift Centre. The second will be at Fairfield Halls at 2pm.
Also available are Chinese cultural workshops in areas such as watercolor lantern painting, Chinese tea and music, calligraphy and Mandarin language classes. Families and children are welcome at all events.
Croydon’s Chinese New Year celebrations build on the international theme of the event, with a Caribbean drummer’s club, an Indian dance workshop, yoga to Chinese music and Tai Chi sessions, which are all free to the public between 2 and 5pm on 7 February.
Art also forms a large part of this year’s celebrations. An eight-metre-wide painting of a phoenix created for this weekend’s events will be on display until June. Croydon artist Hale Man told Eastlondonlines: “We aim to inspire and create opportunities for local residents to participate in art activities.”
“The phoenix is a universal symbol of transformation, regeneration and rebirth. Originally it was commissioned for the Museum of London, it now symbolises the story of Croydon,” she added.
Follow Hsin-Jui Lin (Grace) on Twitter @hlinhlin0317