Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre hosts annual three-day festival in celebration

Firecrackers exploded loudly and sent a cloud of smoke into the air around the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre.

A golden dragon coiled around itself while colourful lions danced in front of a crowd of about 800 Calgarians gathered to celebrate on Chinese New Year’s Eve on Jan 22.

“The dragon and lion dances are supposed to drive away evil spirits and bring prosperity and good luck to the villages,” said Ernest Lo, one of the performing lion dancers from Jing Wo Martial Arts and Athletic Association of Canada.

The ice sculptures will be on display until Jan. 28.
Photo by: Arielle Berze

The dragon and lion dances are also meant to symbolize a new start — with the dragon being especially significant, as 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. It represents luck, power and prosperity, said Yu Qi Lin, a volunteer at a calligraphy exhibit.

This year, Calgary’s Chinese community celebrated the Chinese New Year with a new exhibition: ice sculptures of a dragon, bull and a pair of pandas carved by artists from Heilongjiang Province. The ice sculptures marked 2011 as the 30th anniversary of Alberta and Heilongjiang’s joining as sister provinces. Alberta Culture and Community Services funded the sculptures.

The Chinese New Year Carnival featured many other performances showing traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as martial arts demonstrations, folk art, music, dance and a Chinese painting exhibition.

Along with the performances, an indoor bazaar with 46 booths offered a variety of gifts, snacks and homemade food.Chinese dragons and other Chinese preformances were present at the Chinese New Year’s festivities.
Photo by: Arielle Berze

Despite the small scale of the event compared to those in China, Calgary’s own festival is improving every year, with more people attending each year, Lin said.

“It’s quite amazing,” said Charlotte Airey, a visitor at the festival. “We’ve never celebrated Chinese New Years before. So seeing all the different types of martial arts is really phenomenal.

“It’s very inviting for people who are from other cultures to see Chinese New Years.”

The event attracts more than 20,000 people from a wide range of cultures and ethnicities over three days.

Also see: Photo gallery of the festivities.

 aberze@cjournal.ca