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BEST CHINA

15-02-2010

Chinese New Year

The popularity of Birmingham’s Chinese New Year celebrations does great credit to the city – but as Adrian Goldberg observes, it has now become a victim of its own popularity.

I turned up yesterday half an hour before kick off with the missus and two little girls in tow, anticipating what I hoped would be a lively dragon show, with plenty of fireworks, and some top acrobatics thrown in.

Chinese New Year

Little did I suspect that half of Birmingham would have the same idea, and on an unseasonally sunny Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves incapable of even getting into the Arcadian Centre where these rare attractions were taking place.

Hundreds had arrived even earlier of course, and no doubt secured a decent vantage point overlooking the performance area; but my untutored guess was that there were more people locked out (by security guards) than could get in.

It was the same story over the road at The Hippodrome, which promised a later showing of the acrobats – this time we turned up 20 minutes early, only to find that this too had exceeded capacity.

Chinese New Year

Let’s be clear – this was no JLS/Xmas Lights switch on disaster.

The multitude of families who were turned away from one or other of the venues (or indeed both) accepted their disappointment with good grace – and there were always fairground rides, stalls, or failing that the old-fashioned sweet shop in the back to backs to keep the kids occupied.

As a day out, it still rated highly – but I was left with the sense that it could have been so much better.

Hurst Street was sealed off to traffic – so how about running a parade along it, from top to bottom, so that more people can see what’s going on? Or better still, close the roads on the other side of the Arcadian, so that folk straining to get a glimpse of the dragons aren’t in danger of stepping backwards into a moving car.

Chinese New Year is a great Brummie institution – but one that’s in danger of outgrowing its current environment. Let’s make sure visitors don’t go away feeling that they literally couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

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