The year of the Dragon was welcomed into 2024 as Maidstone celebrated Lunar New Year on Saturday 3rd February. Cohesion Plus produced the celebrations working in partnership with the Maidstone Cultural Group and Maidstone Borough Council.

The celebrations were opened by a ‘Dotting of the Eyes’ ceremony which involved waking the Chinese Lions and was conducted by dignitaries such the Deputy Lieutenant Andrew Wood, Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Gordon Newton, KCC Chairman Cllr Gary Cooke, Cabinet Member Cllr Claudine Russell as well as Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus and Michael Lam, member of Maidstone Cultural and local business owner.

After the ceremony, the Dancing Lions opened the artistic programme on Jubilee Square wowing the crowds with their antics. There were also colourful performances from the SOAS Chinese Music Ensemble, who performed traditional Shanghai Team Room melodies, the stunning Sichuan changing face and ribbon dance puppets as well as a performance from the Peking Opera. There were also additional performances in Lockmeadow Entertainment Centre by the Chinese Lions.

The Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Gordon Newton, who attended the celebrations said: “It was wonderful to see so many people taking part and celebrating Lunar New Year in the town centre. The entertainment was superb and demonstrated the breadth of talent and culture we have in Maidstone.”

Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL, event organiser and Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented: “We were incredibly pleased to deliver this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations, ushering in the Year of the Dragon, working in partnership with the Maidstone Cultural Group and Maidstone Borough Council. We were so proud to be able to deliver an exciting and vibrant programme of Chinese Opera, Puppetry and Orchestra as well as the dynamic Dancing Lions, wowing onlookers who turned out in their hundreds. These celebrations are some of the largest put on in Kent and we look forward to making them even bigger and better going forward, with a view of bringing diverse communities together regardless of their heritage and background. As always, special thanks go to Maidstone Borough Council and Arts Council England for their partnership and support.”