The Chinese new year got off to a galloping start with a colourful spectacle to herald the Year of the Horse.
The Chinese community joined together at The Venue in Walton High School to celebrate with a two-hour ceremony featuring dancing, singing, music and end of year presentations for top students from the Chinese School in Milton Keynes.
The ‘mane’ attraction was the traditional lion dance, with dancers donning ornate yellow lion heads and performing to rhythmic drumming. The lion dance is believed to bring luck and good fortune for the new year ahead.
The new Chinese year officially starts on January 31 but celebrations traditionally continue for around two weeks after.
The Mayor Brian White and MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart attended the ceremony handing out awards to students and wishing the community prosperity for the year ahead.
The Chinese School and Community Centre in Milton Keynes, which has around 200 pupils across all nationalities, is a voluntary organisation which seeks vital funding from events such as the new year ceremony in order to continue to provide a meeting place for the Chinese community while keeping traditional language, art, music and other skills alive.
William Lia, one of the volunteers behind the school, described what the community centre means to the Chinese community in Milton Keynes.
He said: “It is very important, the Chinese community can meet together, they talk about their problems and share happiness.
“It is the only place you can find children and adults together.”
Anyone can join the school and take part in the wide array of classes from art to music and, in particular, the popular Mandarin and Cantonese language studies. Visit www.mkchinese.org.uk to find out more.