Thousands gathered in Liverpool city centre on Sunday to celebrate Chinese New Year 2011.


The celebrations took place in and around the city's famous Chinatown, home to one of the oldest Chinese communities in Europe.


A parade of lions and dragons made its way along Berry Street and added to the carnival atmosphere as residents got involved in the spirit of what will be the Year of the Rabbit for the Chinese and other Asian communities, with face painting, flag waving and a range of Chinese foods on offer.


Most people then gathered outside the Chinese Arch, the largest of its kind in Europe, to watch dancers and musicians see in the Year of the Rabbit in style.


The Chinese have long been linked with the city, with sailors from the country often docking on the Mersey from as early as the beginning of the 19th Century. Many then settled here and have long contributed to the diverse culture of Liverpool.


These links have grown stronger in recent years, particularly with Shanghai, after Liverpool became the only UK representative at the World Expo in the Chinese port city last year.


Ken Teng, a resident of Chinatown said that the carnival atmosphere is quite unique to Liverpool, compared to other areas of the UK. He said: "The Chinese obviously make up a large part of what Liverpool is about and it's brilliant that everybody gets involved on days like this.


"Many cities in England don't really bother to celebrate Chinese New Year but it's always a great event here, even when the weather is not so good."


The festivities concluded a week of celebrations in the city, as the Chinese community looked to make this year's event an all-encompassing affair for the people of Liverpool.

Liverpool welcomes the Year of the Rabbit

By Jonathan Birchall, Website Producer                                                                       Pictures by Vegard Grott

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Dragons and dancers in masks led a parade around Chinatown as the city celebrated Chinese New Year

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