This post is the first in a new series here on the blog. I’ve noticed that when I share photos of an event I’ve been to in Maidenhead, I often get lots of questions or people wish that they had known about it beforehand. I figured that perhaps I can remedy this by sharing my #lovemaidenhead photography and writing about my experiences. So here is my first ever Maidenhead Moments post showcasing the Chinese New Year Parade.
Where and when is the parade?
Ok so first things first, these images are all about the parade in 2017. If the magic of Google has brought you here at any other point, you might want to double check the enjoymaidenhead website for the right date. This year it was Saturday 28th January and it all started at 1pm at the top of the High Street next to the Boy and the Boat statue.
The ceremony started with firecrackers being set off and then a traditional ritual where they dot paint onto the lions. After that the lions walk, dance, jump and shimmy down the High street towards Wilkinsons and then back again, all to the beat of the drums. It’s loud, vibrant and lots of fun to watch.
Maidenhead Mum tip:
If you want to get a good spot for photos then you’ll need to arrive early or find something to stand on. I saw lots of people standing on benches and I’ll confess that I stood on top of a dustbin to get some of my shots! Once the Parade had reached Wilkos, most people drifted away. I was able to get a lot more photos as they went back up past the Post Office to the Boy and Boat Statue.
What’s it all about?
The parade is organized by Eagle Claw Kung Fu School who are based in Maidenhead and they have performed the Lion Dance here on our High Street for 12 years. This was their biggest year yet, with lots of new team members, lions and new additions. I loved seeing the mini lions dance alongside the bigger lions. Great that the age range is from 9 years to 50 years for the lion dancers!
The ceremony is a public version of The Lion Awakening Ritual (Deem Jing). It involves dotting paint onto the lion as a symbol of life-giving, awakening each point of the lion so it comes to life. This part of the ceremony took part at the top of the High Street and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Maidenhead were invited to put paint onto the Lions before the parade went down the High Street.
Can anyone get involved with the Chinese New Year Parade?
People celebrate Chinese New Year all over the world and my daughter learned all about it in school. The great thing about this event is that you don’t need to travel to London to get involved. It’s right on your High Street and it’s free to come along and watch.
If you fancy being one of the Lions you’ll need to start doing a bit of training though. I asked Sophie-Marie Glover from the Maidenhead Kung Fu school to tell me a little more:
We perform at many weddings, events, business openings and restaurants all throughout the year, but our busiest time is during Chinese New Year.Sophie-Marie Glover - School Manager
All of the members in our team train in Eagle Claw Kung Fu at our school. It’s not essential to lion dance but makes a huge difference in the ability of the performer if they know the martial art system that we teach. We have new team members that started training 1 year ago and performed at the parade this year. Lion dance, as well as martial art, is not something you ever stop learning. We have members of our team who have been performing for 20 years and still train and practice up to 5 times a week. It’s very personal but practice makes perfect. Our school has all ages, races, abilities and nationalities. We welcome anyone to train and learn with us.
Want to find out more?
What did I think?
I was amazed that this was the first time I’ve seen the parade even though I’ve lived here a few years now! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was blown away with how bright and vibrant they were. I loved it when the lions raised their heads and soared above me and the crowds. My two children are 4 and a half and 1 and a half and they didn’t come with me this time as I was busy taking photos. I’d love them to see it next year although I would be sure to warn them about the firecrackers being set off.
One of my favourite moments was right at the start when a little girl stood in front of a lion to have her photos taken and had no idea that the lion was sticking it’s tongue out at her all the while, much to the crowd’s amusement.
About this blog
I write this ‘Maidenhead Mum’ blog to share my experiences of life here in Berkshire and beyond. For up to date posts about life here in Maidenhead, you might like to follow my Maidenhead Mum page on Facebook or on Instagram. If you subscribe using the box below you’ll get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox along with some behind the scenes photography tips on each email