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Cities across the world celebrate Lunar New Year

Cities across the world celebrated the New Year of the Dragon with colourful parades on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

In Hong Kong, together with other popular Chinese New Year elements, such as blooming flowers, felicitous couplets, lucky windmills and firecrackers, colourfully adorned floats brought to the parade diverse interpretations of the New Year with various themes.

In New York, fire crackers and lion dances marked the start of the Lunar New Year.

And in Beijing, Chinese performers took part in a traditional dragon dance at a local temple fair.

Chinese performers take part in a traditional dragon dance in Beijing
Masked performers in Hong Kong

A riot of scarlet lanterns meanwhile hung over the red-clothed crowds offering candles as they murmured prayers at a traditional temple in Bangkok to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Millions of Thai-Chinese marked the occasion with parties, family meals and visits to many of the shrines dotted around Chinatown.

The old streets in the capital’s downtown came alive on Saturday afternoon, with thousands of curious tourists and happy devotees such as Watcharin Parichatwuttikoon, 70, enjoying the occasion.

“It’s very sacred. I have attended since I was young,” he told AFP outside Wat Mongkorn, among the city’s largest.

“I like to make merits, wash away bad deeds. Today, it’s refreshing because it’s raining.”

Participants take part in a parade in Hong Kong
Children dressed up as dragons to mark the New Year of the Dragon in Hong Kong
People watch dragon dance performance at Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan

There is a long history of Chinese migration to Thailand, with Thai-Chinese people accounting for roughly 10 percent of the population — including some of the kingdom’s most prominent business families.

Temple-goers found a moment for quiet reflection as they lit candles and made traditional offerings in Wat Mongkorn — sometimes referred to as the “Dragon Temple” — before returning to the bustle outside.

Read more: Chinese New Year: How to celebrate the year of the dragon

Chawanakorn Arunthanachotikul, 31, had travelled with his family and friends to be there.

“Today is a good day for Thai-Chinese people,” he told AFP.

“I pray for luck and ask for this year to end smoothly.”

While many in downtown Bangkok were from the kingdom, the celebrations are a busy and highly lucrative time for tourism in Thailand as well.

Between 1 January and 8 February Thailand welcomed more than 730,000 Chinese visitors, a Thai government spokesperson told local media today.

Chinese performers wait to take part in a traditional dragon dance in Beijing
A large golden dragon is seen on a mall in Bangkok

It follows last month’s visa waiver agreement between Bangkok and Beijing, which Thai officials hope will boost the kingdom’s vital tourism sector, which is struggling to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Chinatown tourists were perusing the many stalls that had set out vibrant merchandise, with vendors often dressed in red cheongsams.

Among those visiting was American-Chinese tourist Cassandra Branson, 22, who had travelled from Beijing.

“I wanted to come to Chinatown during Chinese New Year because it feels like home,” she told AFP, saying she usually celebrated in New York.

“I spend it with family at home and it’s like more quiet, less buzzing. It’s very festive here,” she said.
“It’s a lot more lively.”

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