Crowds enjoy Chinese New Year celebration in Downham town square

Chinese New Year Celebration Lion Dance, Town Square Downham Market ANL-150219-180725009
Chinese New Year Celebration Lion Dance, Town Square Downham Market ANL-150219-180725009
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It may, or may not, be the year of the goat, but it was a lion which wowed crowds in Downham town centre for the annual Chinese New Year celebration.

The event has become a key date in the town’s calendar in recent years with dozens of people gathering in the town square to enjoy the spectacle.

Chinese New Year Celebration Lion Dance, Town Square Downham Market ANL-150219-180809009

Chinese New Year Celebration Lion Dance, Town Square Downham Market ANL-150219-180809009

The James Uglow lion dancers performed a lion dance in the square on Thursday morning to mark the start of the new year.

Officials had been concerned that the attendance would be lower this year than in previous years, because the event coincided with the school half-term holiday.

Pupils from the town’s primary schools have traditionally attended the parade in the past.

But town mayor John Doyle said they were pleased with the public’s response to the event, with many parents watching the dance with their youngsters.

Chinese New Year Celebration Lion Dance, Town Square Downham Market ANL-150219-180820009

Chinese New Year Celebration Lion Dance, Town Square Downham Market ANL-150219-180820009

He said: “There was quite a good turnout.”

The event is organised by the town council’s events committee and has been held annually in the town square for the past six years.

And Mr Doyle believes it is an important occasion to help broaden town youngsters’ understanding of the wider world.

He said: “It helps the children to understand different cultures and they all really enjoy it. It’s one event that the children really look forward to.”

There has been some dispute about which animal is represented in this new year, though Mr Doyle said the dance group was certain it is the year of the goat.

The year has been referred to as the year of the sheep or the ram, as well as that of the goat.

Some experts have suggested that the confusion lies in the original Mandarin Chinese word yang, which they say can be translated as either goat, ram or sheep in English, because it does not distinguish between the respective species.

However, others maintain that the word translates solely as sheep in English and goat in other European languages, such as French.

The dance was also the first of several major public events which the town council is staging during the first half of 2015.

The annual St Winnold’s parade and breakfast is due to take place on March 20 and the council has already launched an appeal to find a shire horse to lead the procession.

The tale of St George and the Dragon will then be told in the town square on April 23 during the annual St George’s Day event.

And the town council is also planning a day of events on May 8 to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day before the traditional festival week, which is scheduled for the end of May.