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The Chinese New Year 2021 fell on Friday 12 February with its new Lunar calendar beginning a year of the Ox. As part of this celebration Newry, Mourne and Down District Council through its PEACE IV Cultural Diversity Programme helped celebrate the ‘Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival’ which was held between 11–17 February 2021.

Chinese musician Yihan Bin has contributed to the Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival
Chinese musician Yihan Bin has contributed to the Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival

The Festival was delivered by ‘Beyond Skin Blueprint PEACE IV Cultural Diversity Programme’ which is a comprehensive ethnic minority cultural diversity programme working across the Newry, Mourne and Down area. The Programme is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Local musician Kieron Black has collaborated on a music cookery production “Chinese Shanxi Punk Noodles” as part of the Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival
Local musician Kieron Black has collaborated on a music cookery production “Chinese Shanxi Punk Noodles” as part of the Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival

The Festival was a mix of on-demand and scheduled activities through music, movement, arts, food and the natural world celebrating Chinese culture and the human spirit of the strength in togetherness as we all navigate through these challenging times. Through creative collaborations with local and global neighbours the festival enabled moments of reflection for those loved ones we have lost, while also nurturing our own mental health and wellbeing. 

A diverse group of young people from the Newry, Mourne and Down area are continuing to meet and collaborate virtually with Chinese musicians in Northern Ireland, Singapore, China and New Zealand. Productions will be released later in the year with special guest musicians to include Stanley Ang, Stephen Huo, Ziyi Zheng, Tammi (& Kenny) Qua, Hanyong Zhang & Danyang Cheng.

Chinese musician Stanley Ang has contributed to the Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival
Chinese musician Stanley Ang has contributed to the Council's Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Virtual Festival

Many new relationships have come about resulted from the Programme for example Kieron Black and David Lee from the district collaborated on a music cookery production “Chinese Shanxi Punk Noodles” with Polly Hallett who has been part of the ‘Taste of The World’ Beyond Skin Blueprint Project. Kieron connected with musician Yihan Bin who also contributed to the Chinese New Year Virtual Festival. They are now starting out on a new collaboration project using music and art to build good relations between Northern Ireland and China.

For further information visit www.beyondskin.net/ox

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