Belfast celebrates Chinese Year of the Dragon
The Chinese community in Northern Ireland welcomed in the Year of the Dragon at the weekend with celebrations featuring all things cultural including cuisine, music, dancing and martial arts.
Hundreds of people joined in the festivities in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast where the Chinese community has had a significant presence for decades. Other celebrations were held in the Ulster Hall, out of the inclement weather.
Model Katie Larmour tucked into some tasty noodles to keep out the chill, while others danced and high-kicked on stage to keep warm.
The Chinese are the largest ethnic group in Belfast and have had a significant influence in the city, not least on local tastebuds with the huge amount of Chinese eateries here.
South Belfast Alliance MLA Anna Lo was the first elected Chinese public representative in Europe — which shows just how deep the roots of the community are here.
Chinese people began arriving in Northern Ireland in the early 1960s in search of work.
Cultural traditions and religions practised by the Chinese community include Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.
Although religion is not institutionalised, most Chinese festivals are religious in origin and the most important festival is the lunar New Year.
In Eastern philosophy the dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority. Therefore, people born in dragon years are to be honoured and respected.