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  1. ITV Report

In pictures: Belfast celebrates Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year festivities in full swing Credit: UTV

Hundreds of people have packed into the Ulster Hall in Belfast for one of the first events in the city to mark the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese Consul General and the High Sheriff of Belfast were both guests at the celebration which had traditional dragon and lion dancing.

The Ulster Hall was dressed for the occasion, inside and out Credit: UTV
The story of the Chinese dragon goes back thousands of years, when it was said dragons used to swallow evil spirits Credit: UTV
Music for the celebration was provided by a contingent from Queen's University Belfast Credit: UTV
Hundreds filled the Ulster Hall to watch the spectacle Credit: UTV
Dozens took part in the ceremony to begin the Chinese New Year Credit: UTV
This year begins the Year of the Rat in the Chinese calendar Credit: UTV

The Chinese community in Belfast has reacted to the event: