Region’s Chinese community warms to Year of the Dragon

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celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year always prove popular in the Borders – but this year’s event is set to be even more special.

The fifth annual Dragon Festival, staged by the Borders Chinese Cultural Association, will see the famous Glasgow Hong Lok Troupe perform their Lion Dance in Galashiels’ Bank Street Gardens on January 22.

The Chinese New Year begins the following day and lasts for two weeks. But, as festival organiser Steve Kwan explained to TheSouthern this week, what will make this year more special for the Borders Chinese community is that 2012 is the Year of the Dragon.

“The dragon in Chinese astrology is the most powerful creature in the zodiac, representing power and wisdom,” Mr Kwan told us.

“That makes it a very special year for Chinese people, because the Year of the Dragon only comes round once every 12 years. Hopefully, with all that’s going on in the world, the Year of the Dragon will bring everyone a little bit more luck and good fortune.”

The Bank Street festivities, which start at noon, are free to spectators, but donations will be gratefully accepted to help fund the event in future years.

And to help mark the new year, a poster competition is open to all primary schools in the region. Children are asked to design a poster for Chinese New Year, with the deadline for entries on January 20.

The winning entry will be recreated as a mosaic and exhibited alongside previous zodiac mosaics at the Beijing Beijing Restaurant, Galashiels.

“Last year’s Lion Dance was held in Channel Street, Galashiels, and the event was packed with spectators.

“It was a great occasion, but we think Bank Street Gardens will provide a better view of the celebrations for more people,” said Mr Kwan.

“Now we just have to hope for some nice dry weather and it should be another fantastic event.”

More information can be found at www.beijingbeijing.co.uk or on Facebook (Dragon Festival Galashiels).