Shoppers were treated to the sight of a dragon marauding through the streets of Leeds city centre – as hundreds took part in Chinese new year celebrations.
The ceremonial monster was part of a parade down Vicar Lane yesterday that also included a lion and unicorn dance and a firecracker display.
There was a host of activities at the town hall organised by the Leeds Chinese Community Association.
Mo Chan, from the association, said: “New year is the biggest event in our culture and everyone looks forward to it. There were lots of people who came to see the parade and to the town hall to take part in all the activities.”
This year is the year of the horse in Chinese culture – one of 12 animals representing the zodiac.
People born in the year of the horse are meant to be good at communicating, like to revel in the limelight and are clever and kind.
But they can also be superficial, impatient and hot blooded and don’t listen to advice.
There are an estimated 2,000 Chinese students in Leeds, as well as about 4,000 permanent residents.
Wetherby resident Mrs Chan, 46, was born in Britain after her father came to this country to work at a restaurant in Harrogate.
She said: “There is a mixture of refugees, people who came looking for work and political asylum seekers.
“It is quite a significant community in Leeds.”
Yesterday’s town hall event included numerous displays of performing arts, music, Chinese calligraphy and marshal arts as well as trade stands offering a variety of food, crafts, and face painting.
Lord Mayor, councillor Thomas Murray, said: “I don’t think I’ve ever followed a lion into the town hall until now.”
Mr Murray, who recently returned from a visit to China, said the Chinese community in Leeds was “small but significant” and added that developing links with China was important to the future of the city.
“China is booming and it’s a place where we need to do business,” he said.
“We need to grow those links, as well as the educational and sporting links that we have already started to develop.”