News: Edinburgh Chinese New Year Festival joins forces with Burns&Beyond in 2020 celebrations

Posted on 8 January 2020

Chinese New Year 2020 in Edinburgh will be bigger than ever, as Chinese New Year and Burns Night – the annual celebration of Scotland’s national poet – both take place on 25 January 2020. The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and the organisers of the annual Burns & Beyond Festival have launched a joint programme, packed with events, concerts and activities from 21 January to 6 February.

The two cultural celebrations only happen on the same date once every 76 years, creating a special opportunity to celebrate and promote Scottish and Chinese culture and traditions; and the growing links between the two countries. 

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said: “This really is a once in a lifetime chance to celebrate the alignment of Chinese New Year and Scottish Burns Night, something which only happens every 76 years! To mark it, our annual Festival of the Chinese New Year will join forces with Burns&Beyond to create a special programme for 2020. This January, join us as we showcase Scots-Chinese culture like never before and celebrate our traditions with a contemporary twist.”

Pictured L-R: ETAG China Ready Chair Rob Lang, Chinese New Year Gala producer Jessica Guo and Consul General MA Qiang

The Consul General from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Edinburgh, Ma Qiang, said: “Chinese New Year is a symbol of good fortune and harmony, embodying the best wishes for a beautiful life. The Chinese New Year celebrations in Edinburgh have set the stage for the East to meet the West and made it possible for different cultures to learn from each other and thrive together. I am keen to join this year’s once-in-a-century co-celebration of Chinese New Year and Burns Night.”

Audiences can explore China’s celebratory phenomenon and enjoy a feast of Scottish culture and traditions as, for the first time, a combined programme of special events and initiatives will take place throughout the city. Highlights include a spectacular Chinese Lantern installation at St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh’s Official Chinese New Year Concert at the Usher Hall, the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo as well as the Burns&Beyond Culture Crawl and the new Burns&Beyond Festival Club in the famous Assembly Rooms on George Street. Local businesses in the city will also welcome visitors with everything from traditional red envelopes and bilingual ceilidhs to bespoke cocktails and whisky tastings.

The centrepiece of the celebrations will be the stunning Chinese Lanterns at St Giles’ Cathedral, presented by Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker.    A canopy of over 400 Chinese Lanterns will transform Edinburgh’s famous St Giles’ Cathedral on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile from Wednesday 22 January to Saturday 1 February 2020.  An evening illumination and soundtrack will transform this historic landmark, which dates back to 1142, creating a sensory experience along with a programme of daytime and evening performance and events.

The Official Edinburgh Chinese New Year Gala Concert at the Usher Hall on Tuesday 21 January will feature the Guizhou Song and Dance Ensemble, a performing arts troupe established in 1956.  Working in genres ranging from dance drama to opera, the troupe specialises in artistic creation that features key characteristics of Guizhou culture and will be bringing a variety of dances and songs that portray their unique folk customs.

Chinese dragon and Edinburgh’s skyline

The award-winning Giant Lanterns of China event returns to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo, but with a whole new theme for 2019/20. Running across 47-nights, this extravaganza is based around a Lost Worlds theme, where hundreds of prehistoric creatures are brought to life to present a visually stunning display of the history of wildlife.    Additional events to celebrate Chinese New Year are taking place across the city, from the Confucius Institute for Scotland to the Holyrood Distillery, Hotel Chocolat and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.  These include a bilingual Mandarin/Scots ceilidh at St Cecilia’s Hall, introducing Chinese students to the fun-filled traditions of Scottish Dancing, Burns Suppers (with poetry, whisky and haggis) and the launch of a new publication of Burns Poetry translated in to Mandarin.  Full listings of all events can be found at www.chinesenewyear.scot.

Rob Lang, Chair of ETAG’s China Ready Initiative said; “We’re delighted to be working with businesses across the city – and Unique Events, the organisers of Burns&Beyond – to create a unique and inspiring celebration of Scottish and Chinese culture. In our largest ever programme, Edinburgh’s residents get the chance to enjoy and explore Chinese culture. In China, the combined celebrations of New Year and Burns create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to position Scotland’s capital as an inspiring and welcoming destination for international visitors.”

Professor Ian Baxter, Director of the Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication at Heriot-Watt University commented; “We are really excited to be working with ETAG again to support the second city-wide Chinese New Year Festival, particularly this year with the added blend of Burns&Beyond. This partnership creatively celebrates China and Scotland to build cultural understanding and a diverse mix of entertainment and education, as well as business opportunities to build the China-ready welcome for visitors to the city and residents.”

Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker celebrates the legacy of Robert Burns through a programme of traditional and contemporary arts and culture from across Scotland and beyond.  The inaugural festival in 2019 welcomed over 30,000 visitors, with audiences of all ages discovering the best in live music, art, comedy and more in some of the capital’s best-known buildings and more secretive spaces.  

Alan Thomson, Director of Unique Events said: ‘We are thrilled to announce the return of Burns&Beyond in January and to have the opportunity to expand and enhance the programme in partnership with Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year Festival. The alignment of these culturally significant celebrations promises spectacular experiences for both the audience and the artists who have helped create a wonderful programme of events. The inaugural festival attracted over 30,000 locals and visitors to events throughout the city centre and we look forward welcoming even more in 2020, the Year of the Rat’.

Tickets for the Official Chinese New Year Concert are available from www.usherhall.co.uk.  Full details of all events for Chinese New Year in Edinburgh can be found at www.chinesenewyear.scot.  Tickets to all Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker events are on sale from Friday 1 November through www.burnsandbeyond.com.  

Edinburgh Chinese New Year Festival 2020 is co-ordinated by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and supported by The Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication at Heriot-Watt University. Burns&Beyond with Johnnie Walker is produced by Unique Events and supported by City of Edinburgh Council, Johnnie Walker, Scotland’s Winter Festivals and Essential Edinburgh.