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Chinese New Year Celebrations In Newcastle Ringing In The New Year - The Year Of The Rat

Sunday 26 January will see Newcastle welcome in the Chinese New Year 2020, the Year of the Rat, with huge celebrations and a parade involving traditional Chinese dragon, lion and unicorn dancers as well as other interesting cultural displays. 

For the third year running, the Chinese New Year celebration parade will start at Old Eldon Square (at 11am) bringing the festive celebrations into the heart of the city and will finish with a fire-cracking finale at the Chinese Arch in Chinatown. 


The parade will take about 30 minutes to work its way along Blackett Street to Chinatown, ending under the Chinese arch at the official entrance to Chinatown at around 12 noon.  Dragon, lion, and unicorn dance performances and Kung Fu demonstrations will take place after the parade and last for approximately 30-40 minutes.  The lion will then visit a number of Chinese related premises in and around Stowell Street to symbolically rid these properties of evil spirits and bring good luck for the New Year.


Support from both NE1 Ltd and Newcastle City Council has allowed the Chinese community to extend the Chinese New Year celebrations in Newcastle, which this year will celebrate the Year of the Rat in the Chinese Zodiac. 


Adrian Waddell, Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd said:

We are proud to be one of the main sponsors of the parade for the third year running and we’re committed to working with the city’s Chinese community to help grow the event in the future.  The Chinese New Year celebrations are a major event in both the Chinese and the city’s calendars and we’re delighted that more of Newcastle gets to enjoy and take part in the festivities.  Kung Hei Fat Choy to everyone.”


Sifu Edmund Ng, Chair of the Chinese Festivities Group and Jimmy Tsang, chair of north east Chinese association said:

 “Newcastle’s Chinatown is a buzzing and vibrant part of this wonderful city with so many fantastic Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and the splendid Chinese Arch, but it also houses parts of the ancient city walls and lies close to St James’ Park, meaning it is at the very heart of the city.  The parade is only one of a number of events and celebrations taking part in Newcastle this Chinese New Year and we hope that people come into the city and to Chinatown to witness the spectacle and to enjoy the tastes, sights and sounds of the celebrations.  I hope the year of the Rat brings great fortune to the city and all its residents and visitors.”


For the first time this year, once the parade has finished one of the Chinese Lions will be positioned outside Fujiyama Restaurant on Bath Lane for the public to get up close to the traditional Chinese Lion and to take photos.


Restaurants and shops will be open on Stowell Street during the festivities selling many traditional Chinese New Year foods, treats and decorations.  The Chinese community centre on Stowell Street will be open to the public, hosting crafts and food tasting and Bath Lane will be closed to traffic throughout the celebrations with a small fairground.


Some of the best vantage points to see and be part of the festivities will be in the Chinese restaurants on Stowell Street as many will enjoy a visit from the Chinese Lion as it visits properties in Chinatown to symbolically cast out evil spirits and bring good fortune for the start of the New Year.  Book a table to enjoy the food and festivities.


Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival and is steeped in over 4,000 yeas of history.  In 2020 Chinese New Year officially begins on the first day of the Lunar Calendar, the 25th January and ends on February 8th.


Many of the elements of today’s Chinese New Year celebrations are traditional. Red is the main colour for the festival as it is believed to be an auspicious colour – and the street and shops will be decorated with red Chinese lanterns and other celebratory decorations.


  • A Chinese New Year Tradition is to give gifts of money in red envelopes to signal good luck and fortune to the recipients. 


  • Food is a key part of Chinese New Year celebrations and there are many dishes that are considered to bring good luck – eating fish on New Year’s Eve is thought to bring good luck for the coming year.


  • Lighting red firecrackers and fireworks is a key part of the celebrations and tradition and is believed to scare away monsters, evil and bring good luck.


Newcastle has a large Chinese community and welcomes thousands of Chinese students into the city’s universities each year.  Newcastle University alone has students from over 120 countries, including 1800 Chinese students. 


Chinese New Year Festivities – Timetable

11 am         Parade starts at Old Eldon Square and makes its way up Blackett Street to Bath Lane.

11.30 -12noon 

Parade arrives on Stowell Street and the Chinese arch. Speakers will address the crowds, dragon, lion and unicorn dance teams will perform routines in front of the VIPs and assembled spectators with firecrackers to signal the end of the parade.


* The parade itself will last 20-30 minutes and terminate at the Arch. The dragon, lion, unicorn  and Kung fu demonstrations will then take place and last in the region of 30-40 minutes. The lion will then visit a number of Chinese related premises in and around Stowell Street which will take between 1- 2 hours.

12.30 pm   Lion Head outside Fujiama Restaurant on Bath Lane for people to have their photographs taken with the Lion.