Lunar New Year celebrations dazzled Maidstone Town Centre as the Year of Rabbit was welcomed in on Saturday 28th January 2023. The celebrations were organized by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Maidstone Cultural Group, Maidstone Borough Council and supported by Arts Council England.
Celebrations kicked off with the Dotting of the Eyes ceremony which ‘awakened the Lions’ signifying the ushering in of the New Year. Civic guests Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Nadra Ahmed OBE, Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Derek Mortimer and Cabinet Member Cllr Claudine Russell took part in the ceremony led by community representative and business owner Michael Lam, officially opening the vibrant programme of activity to the wider public.
Onlookers were able to enjoy amazing performances by the London Chinese Opera Studio, specialists in ancient dance and vocal artforms, the SOAS Chinese Music Ensemble, experts in traditional classical Chinese music and instruments, and Sichuan Changing Face and Ribbon Dance Puppets which saw Chinese myths and folklore retold through the medium of puppetry. The Dancing Chinese Lions also put on a spectacular show interacting with the public and causing overall mischief.
Further activity took place at the Lockmeadow Entertainment complex, continuing the celebrations as the Dancing Lions and SOAS performed to onlookers.
Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “We are so pleased to be able to celebrate the ushering in of the Year of the Rabbit which represents change, transformation, health and prosperity. These are themes which we believe are apt for this time of year. We relish the opportunity to once again work with partners Maidstone Cultural Group to bring the diverse communities of the County Town together to celebrate the fact that, regardless of background and heritage, the themes of Lunar New Year are ones that we can all recognise and identify with. Special thanks go to Maidstone Borough Council and Arts Council England for their support with the event.”