Manchester is a city that takes pride in its celebrations. It’s a place where culture thrives and people aren’t afraid to party. And according to popular belief, it’s a place where the rain doesn’t just fall – it pours.
So with all that in mind, on Saturday we decided to head into the city centre and explore the Chinese New Year festivities. I heard there were various activities taking place throughout the city centre – some we had unfortunately missed like the light show in Albert’s Square, others would be taking place today – such as the dragon parade and fireworks.
Regardless, we found some delightful little stalls along St Ann’s Square and New Cathedral Street. These areas are some of my favourite places in Manchester’s city centre. The architecture is so charming and there’s always something to see or hear – from pop-up stalls to musicians singing a tune and playing their instruments; it’s really quite a special quarter.
As we began walking through the bustling high-street, the clouds burst and sprinkles of rain fell from the sky. We approached the area by New Cathedral Street, and large pieces of graffiti artwork by RareKind China caught my eye. One particular fun design symbolised how the Chinese New Year will welcome in the year of the monkey.
Across New Cathedral Street an Asian street food village could be found. Little huts homed some of Manchester’s favourite food vendors. There was an air of flavour hovering in the air – along with the drizzling rain and cloud of steam from the pots and pans. Alongside the food huts, a Tsingtao Beer Ping Pong Bar stood. Unfortunately we didn’t pop in and play as my ping pong skills leave a lot to be desired and somehow I don’t think I could beat the robot!
We wandered a short distance to St Ann’s Square and were welcomed to the festivities by large banners adorning the street-scape. Traditional, red lanterns danced like cherry droplets from side-to-side in the breeze and decorated the square with pops of colour.
The food market ‘A Taste of China’ was located in the square and offered a selection of the best Chinese food and drink as well as a performance marquee. My mouth soon began to water as there was such an amazing smell of freshly sizzling, authentic dishes. However at this point, the rain got a whole lot worse. It was splashing and spraying in all directions, meaning we had to make a move! Unfortunately we couldn’t grab a bite to eat as there was nowhere to hide from the rain – but this didn’t deter our spirits.
Despite the rain which absolutely soaked us, it was a lovely afternoon as we wandered the city. I think it was great to see how the celebrations continued outside of China Town and offered so many different activities for family and friends to enjoy. If you get the chance to pop into the city centre today for the dragon parade and fireworks, then I would highly recommend a visit. Happy Chinese New Year!