Midlands streets bedecked in colours for Chinese and Lunar New Year celebrations

Chinese celebrations in Birmingham Credit: ITV News Central

Dragons, dancers and martial artists have been invading streets across the Midlands this weekend to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year.

Thousands of people have been taking part in organising or spectating at the festivities as communities across the region mark the event.

In Birmingham, an inclusive programme of celebrations took place on Saturday which was named the Lunar New Year to acknowledge the festival being celebrated in other countries.

It featured a packed event list including Lion Dances, martial arts, street food and live music.

Leicester has held a number of different events across the weekend as part of the occasion.

Music and martial arts all featured during the events

Their festivities began on Friday.

Activities were also held at Leicester's Museum and Art Gallery to celebrate the occasion and a traditional Chinese procession will also take place across the city today (Sunday 22 January).

James Wong, chairman of the Chinese Festival Committee Birmingham, said: "One of my ideas on the festival committee is to spread the Chinese culture far and wide within Birmingham so we're going to quite a few different places.

"Hopefully we can spread our culture to different parts of Birmingham that might never see our Culture."

Birmingham's programme of events started at the Bullring.

The Bullring in Birmingham was transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour

Shoppers were treated to traditional singing, dancing and music, high-energy drum performances, Shaolin Kung Fu demonstrations, and more between 12pm and 5pm.

Festivities continued at 12pm in Southside on Sunday 22 January.

The Sunday programme is full of community performances, street food, fairground rides and family activities.

The event will then culminate with a closing ceremony and a spectacular fireworks finale at 5pm.

In Leicester, a jam-packed programme of events was planned across the weekend.

From Friday, people were able to have a go at Chinese calligraphy, play traditional games or try Chinese foods at a Chinese arts workshop at the Haymarket shopping centre.

Dragons also featured in the festivities

On Saturday there was a free event at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery which featured traditional and contemporary dance, as well as musical performances from Guzheng virtuoso Xiao Ying, and Ling Peng.

From 2.30pm today (Sunday, January 22), a traditional Chinese procession will mark the start of the Chinese New Year as it wends its way from De Montfort University to the city centre, featuring lion dancers, martial artists and pyrotechnics.

Bringing the celebrations to a close will be a spectacular large-scale performance in Green Dragon Square, with live music, pyrotechnics and fireworks from 4.30pm until 5.20pm.

Events have taken place across the Midlands

Amanda Leandro, director of Cosmopolitan Arts which has co-ordinated the celebrations, said: "The work that's been done is to bring the communities together and really kind of get them to celebrate and they love the fact that Chinese New Year happens in the city.

"The work that we do is to break down cultural barriers.

"We want to expose non-Chinese people to Chinese culture so they get a better understanding of the culture and just come and enjoy and experience all the heritage and traditions that are involved within Chinese New Year and Chinese people.

"They don't hold back it's going to be vibrant, it's' going to be loud it's going to be fun, it's going to be just absolutely wonderful."