Whilst Chinese New Year celebrations take place annually across the globe, 2016 will be the first time that the South of England host an open air Chinese market as part of the festivities.
On the last weekend in January, Boscombe precinct in Bournemouth will be transformed into a Chinese Winter Wonderland. The event will feature traditional food stalls, a pan-Asian fashion show and the classic Lion and Dragon Dance.
Boscombe is currently undergoing council-led regeneration to improve its social activities as well as living and working environments.
Councillor Jane Kelly of the Boscombe West ward hopes that the event will promote Boscombe as a welcoming multicultural community. She said: “It’s something different and it’s something new. It will raise the profile of the Chinese school in Bournemouth and prove to people that we can do all sorts of multicultural activities and events to celebrate our cultural diversity in Boscombe.”
Boscombe is known locally for high levels of deprivation. Cllr Kelly believes that the event along with other community celebrations across the year can help combat this: “It helps traders, businesses and residents as well to feel a sense of ownership and that it’s fantastic to live there.
“The [weekend] market is well known throughout Bournemouth. The shops will be open. The cafe’s will benefit. It’s great all round, economically and socially.”
With 2000 visitors expected to attend across both days, Cllr Kelly believes it will welcome visitors from all walks of life. She continued: “The precinct is a fantastic flat shopping centre so for people with walking difficulties and disabilities it’s perfectly accessible.”
Annette Plaistow-Trapaud, Business Liason Officer at Coastal BID, discussed the positive response to the event: “We’ve had some excellent feedback from businesses and local people because of the decoration that we’ve done through the market street.”
The Coastal BID, event sponsors for the Chinese Winter Wonderland, was voted for by local businesses in 2012 to increase tourism and business prospects in the Bournemouth area over a five year period.
Ms Plaistow-Trapaud continued: “It’s going to boost the image of Boscombe and also increase the number of tourists, be them ethnic or from the local areas.”
With regards to the future, she said: “If it is successful, then we would like to do the event over the course of a week. We really do want to continue this and for it to be an annual event.”
Watch the video featuring the Bournemouth Chinese School, event co-organisers, at the Moordown Community Centre to find about the importance of the event in the local community.
The event corresponds with a vast Chinese population in Bournemouth:
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— Buzz (@buzz_bmth) January 27, 2016
The Winter Wonderland will take place between 9am-5pm on Saturday 30th and 10am-4pm on Sunday 31st January.