Viv Hardwick takes a look at Tyneside's colourful plans to launch the Chinese Year of the Sheep

AFTER the spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Newcastle quayside last year that saw tens of thousands of people welcome in the year of Rugby World Cup 2015, it’s now the turn of NewcastleGateshead’s Chinese community to welcome Chinese New Year and the Year of the Sheep.

Thousands of people are expected in and around Chinatown, Newcastle, on Sunday, February 22, for a day of free Chinese events and performances for all the family, including traditional crafts, dance, music and food and drink. The popular dragon and lion dances will once again animate the area around the ceremonial Chinese arch on Stowell Street. The free festivities commence at 11am and run until 4pm, with the dragon and lion dances starting at approximately 12.30.

“We are fortunate to have a thriving Chinese community here in NewcastleGateshead, it’s one of the things that makes us such a special destination. The annual Chinese New Year celebrations give everyone the opportunity to share in the cultures and traditions of this special day in the Chinese calendar, says Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative.

Other events and activities taking place include: a Chinese market, fairground and a special children’s marquee offering a range of traditional Chinese arts and crafts, (Bath Lane & Thornton Square), Chinese zodiac, calligraphy, calendar making and fortune telling (The Chinese Centre, Westgate Road).

The wider Chinese New Year festival programme offers additional events and activities in the weeks leading up to the festivities. The Discovery Museum hosts two days of Chinese-inspired arts and crafts on Tuesday 17 and Thursday 19. The Oriental Museum in Durham hosts a Chinese New Year Gallery Trail on Thursday 19 and on Saturday 21 and visitors can make their own drum, ready for the traditional dragon dance.

Gateshead Central Library is hosting a number of Chinese New Year-inspired events including an exhibition of Chinese painting, calligraphy and crafts as well as a series of family workshops celebrating Chinese art. For details of all the events visit

Dr Chun-Chao leads a four-week Chinese Brush Painting Course at Newcastle Arts Centre from Saturday, February 21 and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art welcomes children, young people and their families to make and animate their own Chinese dragon, with a little help from artists, on Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22.

  • The Chinese New Year festival programme has received support from the Confucius Institute at Newcastle University, a joint venture between Newcastle and Xiamen University, China, that promotes Chinese language and culture through teaching programmes and cultural exchanges. For more information visit
  • For full details of all the events go to