Chinese New Year in Dublin

Lion-Dancing in Dublin at Chinese New Year
© Bernd Biege 2016

Chinese New Year 2016 is going to be celebrated in Dublin again. And we all should enjoy! When the goat (or sheep) will finally leave the stage ... and the monkey will enter. Yes, it is the Year of the Monkey soon. On the ninth position on the traditional Chinese Zodiac, the monkey is said to imbue curiosity, mischievousness, cleverness - and is a deft hand at playing practical jokes. Even when his intentions are good (as they generally are), his prankster side might go over the top at times.

Monkeys are a confused and confusing lot.

Just to mention it ... the new year will start on February 8th, 2016, and it will be the Year of the Fire Monkey, the most active and aggressive of them all. Think Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from "Journey to the West".

Dublin Chinese New Year Festival

After the success of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival over the past eight years, the 9th Festival will ring in the Year of the Monkey - from February 6th to the 21st, 2016. Fun for all, celebrating Sino-Irish relations, and at the same time showcasing Chinese culture, and promoting integration. Which is a tall order. Even in a multicultural city like Dublin.

On the good news side - the main event for the public has switched location (again). They transplanted the free-for-all Spring Festival Fair from the cramped Meeting House Square, part of the Temple Bar district, to the chq Building, part of the Dublin Docklands.

I was deeply disappointed by the events in Meeting House Square, mainly because one could not really move. Hoping to have better views and a better time in the Docklands ...

So, what are the highlights of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival in 2016? Here is my list of recommended items (you'll find the full programme at www.cny.ie):

February 6th and 7th
Spring Festival Fair - chq Building, Dublin Docklands
Same procedure as every year: "authentic" Chinese performances with dragon and lion dances, tai chi and martial arts displays, traditional music and dance, food and craft stalls. Worth going? Through the years, the "authenticity" suffered a bit (hence the quotation marks), in my opinion ... due to the main performances often being provided by non-Chinese. The majority of the visitors is of the same ilk, anyway. But yes, it generally is a good time for all.

February 13th
Wu Wei Concert - Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle
One of the foremost sheng musicians, Wu Wei teams up with Andreja Malir, principal harpist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Expect an unexpected mix of musical styles.

February 16th
Revolutions in the Air - Joly Lecture Theatre, Hamilton Building, Trinity College Dublin
The Chinese revolution of 1911, toppling the Qing dynasty, is analysed in the context of the Easter Rising of 1916. This will certainly be thought-provoking. Though any "connections" might be a bit far-fetched.

February 18th
Spring Festival Gala - Convention Centre Dublin
The UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, in conjunction with the Chinese Embassy in Ireland, presents the 10th Spring Festival Gala.

Special guest appearances by the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre Opera Troupe are the highlight.

February 21st
Fifi Rong Concert - Sugar Club
Originally from Beijing, Fifi Rong is based in London ... and characterized as "eccentric, deep and honest". Emotional intimacy combined with a mesmerizing voice, all mixed into a musical hybrid. Fifi Rong has been nominated as best Electronic Music Artist, and was voted into China’s Top 10 of most popular new artists of 2014.

By the way, you may see some images from the 2009 Dublin Chinese New Year Festival here ... though these were taken in the Wolfe Tone Square, they'll still give you a good impression of the wide variety of things on offer.