Scotland’s largest Chinese New Year celebration will see Edinburgh painted red for the Year of the Pig

A diverse programme of events sees cross cultural celebrations connect local audiences and businesses with Chinese visitors and performers in Edinburgh for a brand new festival.

Chinese New Year
Getting set for Chinese New Year

Scotland’s largest ever celebration of Chinese New Year will take place in Edinburgh from 2 to 17 February 2019. For the first time ever, a co-ordinated programme of special events and initiatives will take place across Scotland’s capital as locals and visitors celebrate the Year of the Pig together.

Recognising the steady growth of individual Chinese events in the capital, mostly aimed at the local Chinese community, the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group has partnered with Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication at Heriot-Watt University to develop, amplify and broaden the reach of Chinese New Year celebrations in the capital. Featuring events for all ages across the city Chinese New Year Edinburgh is set to reinforce Edinburgh’s position as the UK’s most China Friendly destination.

With showcase events at the Usher Hall, National Museum of Scotland, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and Edinburgh Zoo, locals and visitors alike are invited to enjoy world class performance in music and dance, visit spectacular exhibitions and take part in everything from taster sessions in Chinese brush painting to the first ever bilingual Chinese / Scots ceilidh. Landmark buildings across the capital will be lit up in red to mark the occasion and local businesses in the city will welcome visitors with everything from traditional red envelopes to bespoke cocktails.

National Museum of Scotland will open its new Exploring East Asia Gallery on 8th February as part of the completion of the 15 year transformation of its Victorian building along with two other galleries: Ancient Egypt Rediscovered and Art of Ceramics. For Chinese New Year Edinburgh are running a special programme of events for all ages. Visitors to the museum can dress up in traditional costumes, try their hands at calligraphy, paper and flower crafts, enjoy music and dance performances and a host of fun family activities. In addition on Saturday 16th February, the Grand Gallery will be brought to life as internationally renowned Shanghai Theatre Academy Performance Group present a selection of beautiful and dynamic dances from their UK tour.

The Usher Hall will host the official Chinese New Year Concert at on Sat 9 February 2019. Presented by the Asian Association of Commerce and Culture in Europe, the concert will feature the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Edinburgh Singers, and many outstanding artists and soloists from China and Scotland including a never before heard rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

Chinese New Year Edinburgh will be the final opportunity to see the Giant Lanterns of China: Myths and Legends at Edinburgh Zoo where 200 artisans from China have created a world of folktales and fantasy told with over 450 stunning lanterns. Blending Scottish and Chinese folklore this colorful trail is Scotland’s only Chinese lantern festival and runs until 17 February.
National Gallery of Scotland will invite visitors to take part in Chinese brush painting taster sessions on 9 February, National Library of Scotland will host the launch of The Chinese in Britain a new book by Barclay Price on 4th February and later that day St Cecilia’s Hall & Music Museum will host a bilingual ceilidh to make the joy and breathless wonder of the traditional Scottish ceilidh accessible to visitors and residents from China.

These are just a selection of events taking place as part of Chinese New Year Edinburgh. A full programme is available to view online at and in brochures distributed across the capital in partnership with The List Magazine.

Speaking at the launch of Chinese New Year Edinburgh, Lord Provost Frank Ross said; “Chinese New Year Edinburgh is a wonderful opportunity to build on the feel good festival momentum generated at Hogmanay. The rich programme of events will not only give the people of Edinburgh a chance to join in the celebrations and learn more about Chinese culture but also provide a warm welcome to visitors that this festival city has become renowned for.” Consul General Mr Pan Xinchun added to the Lord Provost’s comments saying; “I’m excited to welcome this celebratory programme of events to Edinburgh and learn of the cross cultural partnerships it has developed across the city. Chinese New Year is a time to celebrate relationships and it is wonderful to see Edinburgh building on its relationship with China in a way that brings locals, visitors and the Chinese community in the city together.

Rob Lang, Chair of ETAG’s China Ready Initiative said; “We’re incredibly pleased with the support for Chinese New Year Edinburgh from so many local businesses who have done everything from creating special menus to giving out gifts in traditional red envelopes to customers. The openness and enthusiasm with which they have embraced this new festival will be a boost to the city during a normally quiet time for visitors.”

Professor Ian Baxter, Director of the Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication at Heriot-Watt University commented; "We are delighted to be working collaboratively with ETAG to support the tourism sector to become China-ready. This partnership is an important part of our wider activities which build cross-cultural understanding and business links between China and Scotland. Chinese New Year Edinburgh demonstrates the University's commitment to practical business impact in the city, and will also bring new learning and engagement opportunities for the public. I’m particularly pleased also that students studying on Heriot-Watt's postgraduate MSc Tourism and Heritage Management will be closely involved in the practical delivery and evaluation of the festival's success."

Chinese New Year is a celebration of the new year according to the lunar calendar, sharing many similarities with Scotland’s own Christmas and Hogmanay traditions. Each year is attributed to an animal from 12 year cycles of the Chinese Zodiac; and on Mon 4 Feb, one in six people across the world will count down to midnight to see in the Year of the Pig, which begins on Tue 5 Feb.

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