The winter chill and heavy rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of citizens watching the Chinese Lion Dance Parade to give a warm welcome to the Year of the Tiger.
Accompanied by the rousing sound of drums, the Sheffield Chinese Lion Dance Team set off from Westfield Terrace on Sunday, winding its way through the streets before arriving at London Road, filling the city with a joyful atmosphere.
Chinese New Year celebrations have been underway for five days, starting on February 1, when magnificent fireworks sparked across the city of Sheffield in the early hours of the morning.
Sheffield has had annual Chinese New Year celebrations in previous years, but this year’s performance was the first to return, as it had to be cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
Wu Xiaolong, a member of the team, said: “It’s an incredible comeback, because this year we’re celebrating the Chinese New Year and the Beijing Winter Olympics at the same time.”
The performers, dressed in traditional Chinese Lion dance costumes and stepping in carefully choreographed dance steps, had many people, not just Chinese, stopping to enjoy the show for the entire two-hour performance.
They passed through several Chinese restaurants and entered to interact with the people sat down to eat, which won them a round of applause. This included a performance of ‘eating lettuce’, the Chinese pronunciation of which meaning ‘to give birth to wealth’.
In preparation for this year’s event, the Lion Dance Team encountered many difficulties. “Unfortunately because of the pandemic, we don’t have a training venue anymore – it was difficult to get the whole team together, as we had to do it ourselves at home,” Mr Wu said.
“There has been a lot of hate towards Asian people, especially the Chinese community during the pandemic, so we’re doing this to bring us the courage and luck we need to get over the problems,” he added.
“And hopefully letting Western countries understand our culture.”
Hao Yuchao, 23, an Information Systems student at the University of Sheffield who braved the bad weather to watch the parade, said: “I felt the warmth and hope for the Year of the Tiger in such a traditional Chinese event.”
The team will continue with their final outdoor Lion dance celebration for the Year of the Tiger this Saturday, February 12, at Rotherham Market, with the show starting at 1:45 pm.