From Liverpool to Luna…with love

Culture Liverpool
4 min readJan 12, 2023


Gung Hey Fat Choi Liverpool

“Gung Hey Fat Choi, Happy New Year — a time of celebration, focusing on the removal of the bad, the old and negative and a time for welcoming the new, good and positive opportunities available for the year ahead. According to Chinese culture, it is also a time to worship our ancestors, exorcise evil spirits and pray for a good harvest. Both of these ideas are something we like to support in the city’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations.

After the pandemic and a time when globally, we were unable to unite, to celebrate with friends and relatives all the pleasures that come with New Year, it seems fitting that this year is the year of the Rabbit — the luckiest of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac which is set to bring about prosperity, hope and calm for the year ahead.

Calm though, is not something traditionally associated with the Chinese New Year celebrations in Liverpool. With one of the oldest established Chinese communities in Europe, created by our trade links between China and Britain via our port city status and Shanghai, the celebrations in Liverpool take on a deeper meaning representing our history, a relationship, a community’s growth and our integration of the Chinese Culture in Liverpool’s melting pot of creativity.

This long-established relationship with the Chinese community is something that is documented in a fantastic exhibition at Liverpool Central Library, through a partnership with the British Library and is not to be missed. From January to March, this free exhibit details what it means to be Chinese and from Liverpool featuring clothing, artefacts and real-world stories from members of Liverpool’s very own Chinese community to bring to life the experiences, cultures and histories of the city’s residents. With many hidden histories and first-person encounters recalled this must-see exhibit is a fascinating insight into contemporary and historical Chinese culture in the UK.

Celebrating our united history, Chinese New Year enables us to come together and cement our close ties and it was back in 1999 when a recognisable symbol of this integration in cultures was, quite literally, built. Standing at around 13.5m (or 44ft) tall, the Imperial Arch so synonymous with Chinatown was a gift from our twin city of Shanghai. Shipped over piece by piece in 1999 it was rebuilt by 20 specially selected craftsmen from Shanghai in time for the city’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations around Nelson Street in 2000.

Featuring more than 200 dragons on this unique wooden and marble structure, it symbolises our eternal friendship between our two great seafaring cities and today is the focal point of our annual celebrations. The popular Lion and Dragon dances will parade past this structure during our celebrations and of an evening three stunning paper rabbits will be illuminated around their base featuring intricate craft works to celebrate the year of the rabbit.

According to Feng Shui experts, the traditional Chinese Arch protects Chinatown from evil, and brings good luck and fortune to the area. An interesting thought and again, something that we celebrate during the city’s annual celebrations with this year’s family zone featuring a host of fun workshops to learn about Chinese culture, games, writing, art and creativity.

Growing in popularity, diversity and creativity each year the celebrations embrace, share and tell the story of our evolving community and relationships which has this year, once again, been reflected in our unique commissioning process.

Similar to 2022, we have once again provided an open call to cultural organisations across the city region to provide a creative response to the Chinese New Year celebrations in Liverpool. By opening the creative programming process to the cultural organisations of the region, we have been able to diversify and expand the creative programme to feature new and engaging activities which appeal to a wider demographic to engage in this cultural celebration.

Through this change in the planning and commissioning process we have once again, been able to work with local creatives Focal Studios whose popular projection show at St Luke’s Church (affectionately known as The Bombed-Out Church), brings to life the beauty, culture and creativity of the event in a spectacular light show accompanied by a staggeringly beautiful installation by 2,000 local school children organised by the Bombed-Out Church featuring a series of paper rabbits.

Working with local cultural organisations to diversify the offering of the event, workshops by Arts Groupie in paper puppetry and outdoor graffiti art by Zaph Graffiti are additional events and activities which have joined the programme in 2022 and 2023 and demonstrate our new emphasis of Chinese New Year on a contemporary look at the wider South East Asian community and its intrinsic links with Liverpool and our culture.

As such, this year’s programme has evolved and created a celebratory, inclusive and far-ranging event which I am very proud of. Combined with traditional exhibitions, workshops and performances to educate, inspire and share the history and culture of our Chinese community we also have creative, fascinating and beautiful outdoor experiences in music, light and art which together provide an immersive, interactive experience throughout the month of January (and some beyond) which shine a spotlight on our Chinese community.

Reflecting on the years behind us, our incredible growth across our event and Chinese community I think it is time to look forward — to the new, and what will hopefully be a lucky year for us all, filled with prosperity, hope and calm. In the meantime, it’s time to celebrate, and honour our traditions with an incredible weekend of events and once again wish one another…Gung Hey Fat Choi.”

Sarah Vasey, Arts Development Officer, Culture Liverpool



Culture Liverpool

Telling stories. Delivering events. Championing creativity. Inspiring audiences. Thinking forward. — Culture: the rocket fuel for regeneration.