CHINESE New Year festivities helped brighten up Boscombe's Sovereign Centre at the weekend, with bumper crowds turning out to mark the Year of the Pig.

The shopping centre hosted the celebrations, which included a traditional dragon dance, lion dance, Tai chi Fan and Qipao dance.

Supported by the Coastal Business Improvement District (BID), the event was free to all.

Coastal BID chairman Paul Clarke said: "The Chinese New Year celebrations are a fantastic opportunity for everyone to experience the community spirit of Boscombe and the surrounding areas.

"The Coastal BID is passionate about making the local area even better for residents, visitors and businesses, and these celebrations are a great way to help achieve that."

Indeed, in the run up to Saturday's festivities the BID team ran the 'Lucky 8 Competition' where one winner receives £8,888.

Participants had to collect eight unique stamps plus two joker stamps from participating businesses, then submit their cards for a chance to win.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's winners draw, Mr Clarke said: "I'd like to wish anyone entering the Lucky 8 Competition the best of luck."

Gareth Hart, one of the many Bournemouth residents who attended Saturday's celebrations, told the Daily Echo: "I have to say, I've never witnessed anything like this before, and it has been marvellous.

"The energy and vibrancy of the dancers was impressive.

"Events like this, which celebrate cultural diversity, are more important now than ever.

"Oh, and apparently I was born in the Year of the Tiger, which I did not know before today."

A spokesman for Visit Bournemouth said the event was in keeping with Boscombe's strong Asian community.

"For the brave attendees, there was also a children’s Kung Fu demonstration," said the spokesman. "Workshops were also be held throughout the day offering a glimpse into Chinese culture."

Visitors could even have their name translated from English to Chinese and receive a traditional Chinese face mask colouring.

Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of the new year on the tradition Chinese calendar.

Usually referred to as the Spring Festival, in China, the first day of Chinese New Year begins in the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20.

Chinese New Year officially began on February 5.