BRUSSELS, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- With red lantern raised, Chinese couplets pasted and lion-dance performed, Chinese Lunar New Year is being celebrated across the continent.
The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, falls on Tuesday this year. In the streets of several European cities, performance such as dragon and lion dances and Tai Chi drew in huge crowds of people, mirroring a growing interest in Chinese culture among European people.
GREETINGS FROM LEADERS
In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May hosted a Chinese New Year celebration reception Thursday at No. 10 Downing Street.
Affirming the important role that the Chinese community plays in British life, May said, "I'd like to wish everyone celebrating Chinese New Year a prosperous and auspicious Year of the Pig."
Britain attaches importance to its relations with China, May said, recalling the important consensus reached last year by both sides in promoting the "Golden Era" in bilateral relations. The British side expects to work together with China to push forward bilateral cooperation in all sectors for more fruitful outcomes, she added.
In Zagreb, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wished Chinese people "Happy New Year" on Monday as she attended a New Year's Eve dinner in a renowned Chinese restaurant.
"It was wonderful to celebrate the Chinese New Year with Chinese friends here in Zagreb. I would like to wish Happy New Year to all the Chinese people in China and all over the world. Xin Nian Kuai Le," the president said, ending her greetings with Chinese words she just learned for "Happy New Year".
Croatia will host the summit between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries in April. Grabar-Kitarovic said that she looked forward to it.
"I'm very happy that the program actually corresponds to my own initiative of the three seas, connecting the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Sea," said the president, mentioning the Three Seas Initiative that includes 12 EU members located between the Adriatic Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. It aims to enhance regional cooperation and dialogue in various aspects.
CELEBRATIONS ON STREETS
To mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year, a long parade was held in the Belgian city of Antwerp Saturday as part of the 2019 Spring Festival organized by the local Chinese community and Antwerp.
Antwerp, known as the "Diamond Capital" of the world, bristled with incandescent lights as the 2019 Spring Festival parade took the city by storm, with thousands of curious onlookers and Chinese residents taking part in the festivities.
"The Chinese community in our city has made a concerted choice to embrace and cherish the opportunities that this city offers. A new year celebration like this one, with music and dance, is an outstanding opportunity to get to know each other even better, value and respect each other even more," said Bart De Wever, mayor of Antwerp, who attended the parade.
Meanwhile in Dublin, a 17-day-long festival initiated by the City Council to celebrate the Chinese New Year kicked off Friday night with lion dances, a reception served with dumplings and a concert presented in a combination of Chinese and Irish music.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland Yue Xiaoyong, and Irish Ambassador to China Eoin O'Leary were among the 200-strong representatives attending the opening reception of the festival at Dublin City Gallery.
Addressing the event, Dublin City Mayor Nial Ring said that the festival this year is the largest of its kind ever held by Dublin City Council since its inception in 2008.
In London, the Science Museum of Britain celebrated the Chinese New Year by hosting exhibitions on science development in China. While enjoying Chinese delicacies and new year traditions, visitors experienced ancient Chinese inventions through augmented reality glasses, learned about Chinese fossils and watched presentations on the recent development of Chinese space technology.
Celebrations in London will last a month with a series of activities culminating in the Trafalgar Square parade on Feb. 10, which organizers say to be the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside Asia.