Enter the dragon

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PANDAS are all well and good for Edinburgh – but this week, it’s Glasgow’s turn to celebrate their homeland.

City centre arts venue Ricefield is marking Chinese new year in style, with a series of events designed to celebrate the country’s rich history and contemporary culture.

Takeaway China 2012 begins on Friday – but far from a five minute affair, events are ongoing until April 14.

Still, it’s the festival’s opening week which promises most to see and do – allowing Glaswegians to welcome in the year of the dragon on January 23.

Foodies may appreciate the chance to take in traditional cooking demonstrations by Shanghai chefs – offering up cuisine a far cry from the usual chicken curry.

There are also various chances to experience a traditional tea ceremony, and younger members of

the family may enjoy creating their own Chinese lantern (a new year staple).

Many of the celebrations – such as the big new year’s eve party at the Millennium hotel — provide food or drinks, and so ticket prices vary widely.

But there are a number of activities – lantern-making being one – which are free to join, allowing families to drop in for a taste of the holiday.

Ricefield’s answer to Hogmanay, held on Sunday night, is a glamorous affair, with jazz from Carol Kidd evoking the sounds of 1930s Shanghai, as well as a huge banquet to see out the year of the rabbit.

January 23 then marks the start of a programme of independent Chinese cinema, shown at various venues across the city, as well as two photography exhibitions to come at Street Level Photoworks.

The first film, screened at Glasgow university’s Andrew Stewart cinema, is 2046 — a science fiction piece from acclaimed director Wong Kar-wai — and it’s a free event.

What follows is a series of films with subjects ranging from fortune telling to social outcasts, all providing an insight into the arts scene in contemporary China.

Whether it’s an event you mark annually, or just a chance to learn something new, Takeaway China might provide just as much entertainment as our own famed new year celebrations – meanwhile kung hei fat choy from everyone at The Extra.

The festival runs from Friday until April 14. Venues, times and prices vary – for full programme details, visit www.takeawaychina.com.