CHILDREN from around the city have been meeting up at Oxfordshire Chinese Community and Advice Centre (OCCAC) to rehearse for the annual Chinese New Year celebrations.

Yesterday, children practised singing songs which they will perform as part of the special celebrations this Sunday at Oxford Town Hall.

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional festival of the Chinese calendar.

This year it is the year of the pig and people born in the year are considered easy-going, helpful, courteous and kind, with quiet inner strength.

Oxford Mail:

At Sunday's Chinese New Year celebration event, there will be a Chinese lunch followed by a lion dance, acrobatics, a children’s choir and lots more.

There will also be a Western and Chinese musical ensemble, the Chinese New Year Song and a charity raffle draw with a business class plane ticket to China as the top prize.

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Dr Jinghuan Li, the director of OCCAC’s Chinese New Year Celebration, said: "This year is probably the biggest because we are having people from the local community perform instead of professional dancers who we have had in the past. This year it will be 95 per cent local people from Oxford and China.

"The OCCAC has been helping people to integrate into Oxford and this is one of the ways that we achieve that. We want the local people to understand Chinese culture."

Despite cuts in funding to the centre, it has managed to stay open and this will be its 28th year of hosting Chinese New Year celebrations.

Dr Jinjhuan Li said: "I’m happy to see so many local people involved on such a big scale. After many hours of rehearsals we can see the quality of the show and the children are excellent on the stage."

By children taking part in celebrations it helps them to embrace their Chinese heritage.

Dr Guoliang Fu, the Chair of the community centre said: "We are repeatedly being told how important this event is and how it contributes to the cultural calendar of Oxford, and ensures that our children learn about the roots of their culture. Unless we can raise further funds, this event will not be sustainable in the future."

The event starts at 12.30pm and tickets can be purchased in advance at OCCAC on Princes Street or on the door.