Year of the Tiger: Sumatran tigers help launch Edinburgh's Chinese New Year Festival

​With Edinburgh's Chinese New Year just days away, get ready to greet friends and family with the words 'gong hei fat choi', a wish of great happiness and prosperity​, as the Year of the Tiger roars into 2022​.

By Liam Rudden
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 4:45 pm
Lucu, one of Edinburgh Zoo's critically endangered Sumatran tigers is given an enrichment box at the launch of  Edinburgh's Chinese New Year Festival
Lucu, one of Edinburgh Zoo's critically endangered Sumatran tigers is given an enrichment box at the launch of Edinburgh's Chinese New Year Festival

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​With the help the Zoo’s Sumatran tigers, Dhrama and Lucu, organisers of Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year Festival ​have ​launched ​the​ programme of events and activities ​set to take place across ​the city and online to mark the arrival of The Year of the Tiger​, which officially begins on Tuesday​, ​February​ 1​.

That's when you'll be most likely to hear the greeting, 'Gong hei fat choi,' although if you want to wish someone Happy New Year, the correct thing to say is ‘Xin Nian Kuai Le​’, pronounced ​’shin nyen kwi luh’.

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Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh, Ma Qiang and Lord Provost Frank Ross at the launch of Edinburgh's Chinese New Year Festival 2022

Launching ​this year's ​Festival, Rob Lang, Chair of the ETAG’s China Ready Initiative, said​,​ “We’re delighted to be working with businesses across the city to welcome The Year of the Tiger by creating a unique and inspiring celebration of Scottish and Chinese culture.

“Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year programme of events creates an excellent opportunity to enable the people of the city to learn more about Chinese culture whilst also re-affirming Scotland’s capital as an inspiring and welcoming destination.

“​With the easing of restrictions, and a strong mix of online and in person events this year, residents and visitors can enjoy the Chinese connections across the city.”

​Each Chinese year is represented by one of the 12 recurring animals that make up the Chinese zodiac​. The 12 year cycle begins with ​a rat,​ which is followed by on ox, then tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig​ - t​​​hose born ​​in the Year of the Tiger are believed to be imbued with an adventurous, enthusiastic and confident​ spirit​.

Lucu at the launch of Edinburgh's Chinese New Year Festival 2022

Highlights of the 2022 programme to welcome the Year of the Tiger, which symbolises strength, courage and triumph over evil, include the Festival's flagship Celebration Light Show. Free to attend, it will start with lion and dragon dances outside the City Chambers on the Royal Mile on Sunday, January 30, at 4pm.

The Tai Chi, martial arts and Chinese dancing performances will be followed at 4.45pm by a parade led by the lion and dragon dancers which will proceed up the Royal Mile to the Castle where, from 5pm to 9pm, animations and films will be projected onto the historic monument, including the story of the tiger in Chinese folklore and the stunning Rhapsody on the Luo River Goddess, which was shot underwater without the use of CGI.

The Celebration Light Show will run for three nights until Tuesday, February 1.

Other highlights will find the Edinburgh Chinese Arts Association staging an afternoon of celebrations on The Mound on February 6, where visitors can join in with calligraphy, Tai Chi and Chinese folk music activities.

Lucu feeds from the enrichment box at the launch of Edinburgh's Chinese New Year Festival 2022

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Local businesses too are getting involved with Taste of Asia Afternoon Teas at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, limited edition Chinese-themed cocktails at Harvey Nichols, and a Chinese calligraphy artist at Strathberry, on Multrees Walk, creating complimentary, bespoke artworks to allow customers to experience the ancient tradition for themselves.

There will also be an opportunity to win a Tiger Caddy of Scottish Tea from PekoeTea on Leith Walk, while at The Red Door Gallery, on Victoria Street, award-winning artist Sarah Kwan’s Aye of the Tiger explores connections between Scottish and Chinese culture.

Lord Provost Frank Ross, said: “Each year our celebrations for Chinese New Year continue to grow, providing us with an opportunity to enhance Scottish people’s understanding of Chinese culture, so it’s fantastic to see another rich programme of events and activities.

"It’s great to welcome the return of in-person celebrations as well as online activities for audiences to enjoy from home. There really is something for everyone and such colourful events will provide the perfect tonic for everyone who missed out on our traditional Hogmanay festivities.

“Our city has long and proud links with China going back over a century. And as we welcome the Year of the Tiger, which symbolises strength, courage and triumph, it’s fitting as we all continue to rise to the challenges of this pandemic.”

Online activities include taster Chinese language lessons, Tai Chi sessions, calligraphy demonstrations. ​a tour ​of St Cecilia’s Hall's collection of historic keyboard instruments, the origins of the Chinese Zodiac​, an online concert by the Rainbow Melodies Troupe and a film on the Year of The Tiger.

Edinburgh Zoo’s endangered Sumatran tigers​ will also play their part, appearing on the wildlife conservation charity’s free online webcams.

Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh, Ma Qiang, said​,​ “The Tiger represents so many of the characteristics we need to employ in our endeavour in the challenging year of 2022: ambition, strength, courage and triumph over evil. I’m very delighted to welcome and participate in the programme of Edinburgh’s Year of the Tiger Celebration.

"​I know for sure that these fantastic events and activities will bring China and Scotland closer together through difficult times of Covid and, moreover, contribute to the cultural diversity of the City of Edinburgh.

“Hopefully the celebration of the start of the Year of Tiger will make the next 12 months an auspicious year for our businesses, for our governments, and above all for our peoples, just like adding wings to the tiger. I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Xin Nian Kuai Le!”

Full details of Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year Festival, which runs from Saturday, Januaey 29 to Sunday, February 13, can be found here

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