PHOTO GALLERY: Hundreds of schoolchildren welcome in the Chinese New Year in Downham Market

Hundreds of people flocked to a special event in Downham Market today to welcome in the Chinese New Year.

More than 200 schoolchildren surrounded the Town Square at around 10.30am to watch lion dancers perform and welcome in the Year of the Rabbit.

The event was sponsored by Downham Market Town Council and Keystones Estate Agents, which is based in the market town.

Abbie Panks, the town council's events coordinator, said it was a lovely event and that she was delighted to see so many people join in with the celebrations.

This event followed on from members of the West Norfolk and District Chinese Association welcoming in the new year at Lynnsport on Sunday, February 6.

The rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese lunar horoscope and is believed to symbolise diplomacy and grace – 2011 is said to be a year of congeniality when peaceful negotiation will come to the fore.

Children born in the year of the rabbit, or hare, are said to have longevity and take their essence from the moon, Peace, quiet and tranquillity are all associated with the sign.