DRAGONS soaring through the air, brightly coloured costumes, and beautiful dancing marked Chinese New Year.
Performers flew in from China and travelled across the UK for the spectacular celebrations at Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday, for the Year of the Horse.
The Mayors of Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport, took part in the festivities which organiser Albert Choi said united communities.
Mr Choi, owner of Noble House, in Southsea, is the chairman of the Portsmouth Chinese Association.
He said: ‘We managed to put on a great show to celebrate Chinese New Year together.
‘We have a big Chinese community here and this is a very prestigious occasion.
‘It is the Year of the Horse, and we have a wonderful city in which to celebrate that in the most beautiful Guildhall, which is the envy of other cities.’
Councillor Lynne Stagg, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, said she was proud to be part of the celebrations and has been involved for the past 25 years.
‘It’s just fantastic. I used to come back in the day when it was in Buckland Community Centre, and now it’s here,’ she said.
‘I fostered a Chinese girl and used to take her to Mayfield on Sunday mornings for Chinese lessons.
‘And my eldest son taught English in China so we’ve got lots of links.
‘Twenty-five years ago the Chinese community was made up of about 500 people. Now it’s almost 3,000 and we have the biggest Chinese community in the south.
‘It’s so lovely to see so many people here today.’
There was dancing, singing, and poetry at the event which saw more than 1,000 fill the Guildhall.
Councillor Rob Wood, who represents St Thomas ward, said he was proud to celebrate his Chinese heritage. His mother is Chinese.
He said: ‘It is a way of sharing the culture with other people.
‘Just looking around the room we see so many different people and it’s great that they want to know about the Chinese heritage.’
The dancers from China were brought over by the Chinese Embassy. Dancers also came from London, Bournemouth and Portsmouth.