The rich cultural history of Scotland and China meld together for the ninth annual Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year celebration.
The event begins with a performance by Brigadoon Dance Academy serenaded by piper Bill Poppy.
The Lion dance follows and then the pipe and drum band.
“They almost literally blow the roof off,” said Lloyd MacIlquham, event organizer, about the pipers.
The annual address to the haggis comes next, which is done in Robbie Burns’ dialect, Mandarin, Cantonese and French.
The buffet is followed by several more entertainment acts.
Xiangshu Zeng, a dancer in the troupe Flowers of Nanaimo, said all the dancers in her group volunteer and make their own costumes. The dancers perform traditional Chinese folk dances and choose different themes each year, she said.
“My team is a good team,” she said, adding it’s “like a family.”
The group also performs in various senior homes after the event to share Chinese New Year celebrations.
“We want to bring the love to all those seniors,” she said.
About four years ago the celebration introduced the lion sword dance. It was a combination inspired by the Brigadoon Dance Academy and lion dance. MacIlquham said everyone loved it, so the dance has become an annual event at the celebration.
“We try to do something new every year just to keep people guessing and coming back,” said MacIlquham.
Each year the organizers choose a different cause or organization to support. Past causes include the Nanaimo Art Gallery, Red Cross relief for Haiti, CHLY and disaster relief for the Philippines.
MacIlquham said money raised during the event covers the cost of the venue rental, performer costs and the rest is donated. Many of the performers also volunteer behind the scenes to ensure the event happens, he added.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” said MacIlquham. “They are top-notch performers and professionals.”
This year the organizers are donating the money to help Nanaimo youths travel to the historical Canadian battle site at Vimy Ridge.
The ninth annual Robbie Burns and Chinese New Year Celebration, which celebrates the year of the monkey, is Saturday (Jan. 30), 4-7 p.m. at the Bowen Park auditorium.
Tickets are $25, $12.50 for children aged six to 11 and children under six are free.
Tickets must be purchased in advance, and won’t be sold at the door, and are available by calling 250-729-9948 or e-mailing email@example.com.