Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.16.37A GROUP of Sunderland youngsters will be showing off their language skills as part of the city’s first major celebrations to welcome the Year of the Monkey.

For the first time, Wearside is set to hold its own large scale Chinese New Year celebrations onFebruary 7 with a whole host of activities and performances.

And that includes a performance of a number of traditional songs in Chinese, performed by the Mandarin Club from Sunderland’s St Anthony’s RC School.

The event – which runs from 1pm to 5pm at the city’s award-winning Keel Square –will also include a dance performance in traditional costume by students from the University of Sunderland, Kung Fu display to Qilin – also known as the “Chinese Unicorn” – dancing.

The event is the brainchild of local businessmen Harry Collinson and Ian Wong, who have worked for months to bring together each aspect of the event.

Mr Wong, who runs Asiana restaurant in Sunderland city centre, said “we have a large Chinese community here in Sunderland, so it seemed only right to host a huge Chinese New Year celebration and get everyone in the city involved.”

Chief Executive of Sunderland’s Business Improvement District, Ken Dunbar, who is supporting the event, said the BID are “delighted” to be part of such an exciting cultural event, with the hope that it would become an annual event on the Sunderland calendar.

“It’s great to see everyone in the local community coming together to join in the city’s first large scale Chinese New Year celebrations,” he said.

“It will be a real opportunity for the city to embrace Chinese culture and drive visitors into the city centre.”

Harry Collinson, of Rough Diamond Entertainment which has helped bring the programme together, believes this is the start of an annual event in the city.

“We are pleased so many people have got behind what we promise will be a really special day for everyone,” he said.

The afternoon of celebrations will end with a procession of red packet lanterns, fireworks and closure by His Right Worshipful Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran.