Our partners: CityCo and Heart of Manchester BID

14 January 2016

The City Centre management company CityCo strives to make Chinese New Year Manchester’s most bright and colourful annual celebration.

The City Centre management company CityCo strives to make Manchester city centre a better place to work, visit and live. Chinese New Year is undoubtedly Manchester’s most bright and colourful annual celebration and the Confucius Institute is part of as one of the cultural partners of CityCo and Heart of Manchester BID

Q&A with Nelson Beaumont-Laurencia, Events Producer

What is CityCo (Heart of Manchester BID) and what role do you play in celebrating Chinese New Year in Manchester?

Heart of Manchester BID is the business improvement district for Manchester’s city centre retailers. We work with retailers and partners to put on an exciting events in the city centre – from cultural events to shopping events – to bring people into Manchester and to make the city an exciting place to live, visit and shop. We support the council and Chinatown’s yearly celebration of Chinese New Year – the traditional fireworks and dragon parade – with a contemporary Chinese New Year festival that runs from the Thursday through Saturday (with the dragon parade and Chinatown celebrations on the Sunday). Our side of the festival includes shopping events, live music, contemporary art and food.

Why do you choose the Confucius Institute as your ‘Cultural Partner’ and what do you expect from them?

The Confucius Institute in Manchester has a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of not only Chinese tradition but also contemporary China. As a contemporary Chinese New Year festival, working with Confucius Institute as a Cultural Partner is invaluable and brings new ideas and new people to festival. The relationship between the institute and the Chinese student community is very important to make sure this is a festival that is enjoyed by young people from China who live in Manchester as well as the Chinese community in Manchester itself. The Institute are also excellent at making Chinese culture accessible to everyone outside of these communities, their calligraphy workshop was extremely popular with everyone who came down to celebrate the Year of the Ram last year. We are continuing to work with them on workshops like this and also use their contacts in the Chinese community to programme a live music stage on Saturday 6th February in St Ann’s Square, with Chinese artists performing traditional instruments and dancing.

What special events have you planned for this year’s celebration? How many people do you expect to turn up?

The event attracts thousands of visitors from across the region every year and this year’s programme of events is even larger than last year. Thousands of traditional red lanterns will once again adorn the city from mid-January then during the festival itself our main attraction is a giant 60ft golden Chinese dragon – an inflatable sculpture that will tower over Exchange Square. In terms of events, every night we will be projecting a New Year light show on St Ann’s church, the story of Chinese New Year specially animated to interact with the architecture of the church itself (6-9pm). All through the festival we will be working with another of our cultural partners, CFCCA, to bring live street art to the streets of Manchester. Two street artists from China are being flown over to create new works live on the city’s shopping streets, which should be an amazing insight into their working process and will create a new gallery of large scale art in the city. There will be live music at lunchtime and after work on St Ann’s Square and street food from Chinese restaurants from across the city as well as Masterchef finalist The Hungry Gecko and MFDF 2014 Best Street Food award winner Mei Mei’s Street cart serving Jian Bing. In the shops themselves there will be special shopping events, on the website there is a competition with Hainan Airlines to win a holiday of a lifetime to Beijing, there’s a Tsingtao Beer Ping Pong Bar and finally there will be freerunning monkeys, acrobats performing parkour, leaping like monkies around the city. There’s so much going on…and this is before the dragon parade and fireworks on the Sunday!

Apart from the Chinese New Year celebration, what other city-wide projects do you manage?

Our events calendar is very broad and goes beyond just Chinese New Year. We are about to announce our new events calendar for 2016-2017 which includes two student shopping events called (one in April, one in September) a new festival for King Street and the return of The Manchester Picnic, which will be a largescale food and entertainment event in the city centre for adults and families alike, a big Summer festival of games, music and food and drink to get people into the city centre, having fun, shopping and leaving knowing that Manchester is one of the best cities in the UK to visit for festivals and cultural events.

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