A LARGE crowd gathered at an historic Worcester venue to celebrate Chinese New Year in style this afternoon.

Around 200 people attended the free event around the Guildhall for the event marking the start of the Chinese year of the Rooster.

The celebrations, which were organised by Worcestershire Chinese Association (WCA) with the support of Worcester City Council, began with a bang as loud firecrackers were set off outside the Guildhall.

This marked the start of a traditional performance of the lion dance and martial arts performance, all to the beat of the drums which continued throughout the spectacular and colourful half hour show.

After the proceedings, crowds were welcomed inside the Guildhall for speeches, more performances including Tai Chi and a sword dance and a talk on the meaning of the Year of the Rooster.

Frankie Tsang, WCA founder and chairman, told the Worcester News it had been another excellent turn out.

"The event is for everyone," he said.

"It is for people of Worcester of all ages - particularly the young. It is also educational, for people to learn what Chinese New Year is."

Eric Brown, acting secretary of the WCA, added: "There are a lot of Chinese students from Worcester University helping us.

"It is not just about this event, the association holds other events throughout the year.

"We also encourage Chinese investment into Worcester as well."

Chinese New Year is centuries old and includes several myths and traditions.

It has traditionally been a period to honour deities as well as ancestors, and in Chinese households families gather together for a meal, and clean the house to sweep away any ill-fortune, making way for goodluck.