PRIMARY school pupils have been working with university students to plan activities for a city’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

Over the past few weeks, children from Shincliffe, Langley Moor, Neville’s Cross, Bearpark, St Margaret’s, and Framwellgate primary schools have been meeting with members of Durham University’s Chinese population to learn all about Chinese New Year culture and traditions and to plan activities to present as part of Durham City’s main Chinese New Year celebrations.

The Chinese New Year, which falls tomorrow, will be celebrated with traditional music, dancing, storytelling, arts and more across Durham City on Saturday.

Entry is free to the event, which has been organised with support from Durham County Council, Durham BID, Durham University, Durham Chinese School and Durham Markets.

Traditional lion dancers will perform in Millennium Place at 12.30pm, when in a ritual said to bring good luck, Councillor John Lethbridge, the Mayor of Durham, will catch a lettuce from the lion. Further lion dance performances will then take place around the city centre throughout the afternoon.

As part of the preparations, Sifu Shaka Brown of Oceans Apart Kung Fu Club visited Langley Moor Primary School, to help pupils to create colourful flags and decorate two lions’ heads for use in the procession.

The children also practised some basic dance moves, which they’ll put into practice during the festival, when they will take turns to perform with the lion as it processes through the city.

Durham Markets managing director Colin Wilkes said: “I’ve been watching the rehearsals and preparations, and the children are loving being immersed in a different culture, and its traditional events, especially such a vibrant, colourful and loud event.”

Shaka added: “It’s been a real pleasure to work with these children. I’m sure that on the day their families will be very proud of how much they’ve achieved in a short space of time.

“The lion dance is a complex martial art routine, and we’re delighted that the children have learned and practised their moves and are working well as a team. They will be a great addition to this year’s Chinese New Year lion dances in the city centre.”

Councillor Olwyn Gunn, cabinet member for children and young people’s services said: “Bringing the New Year celebrations into the classroom creates fantastic opportunities for pupils to explore and enjoy Chinese culture, traditions and customs.

“The children are having great fun learning about the festival and the Year of the Pig through a range of activities, and are excited to be playing a key part in the public parades.”

To complement the city centre celebrations, Durham University’s Oriental Museum will also host special activities. On Saturday. Visitors can make Chinese lanterns and paper cuts to decorate the museum. Then on Tuesday February 19, the museum will be open until 8pm for a New Year Lantern Festival, with traditional crafts, refreshments and stories and a gallery hunt.

Professor Claire O’Malley, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), said: “As a global university, we’re proud that more than a quarter of our students come from outside the UK and 150 nationalities are represented among our staff and students.

“We’re looking forward to joining our Chinese staff and students in what promises to be a very memorable celebration which anyone, whatever their age or background, can enjoy.”

The full programme is available to view at