SOUTHAMPTON'S Chinese New Year celebrations commence this weekend with entertainment, workshops and traditional displays.

January 25 marks the start of the Year of the Rat, and there will be plenty of culture and activities for residents to get immersed in.

The UK Shaolin Temple celebrations start on January 25 and will feature dancing, a festival parade, interactive workshops and Chinese cuisine in Guildhall Square.

These events are free to attend from 10.30am to 1pm.

From 1.30pm there will be a ticketed event at the Guildhall that will feature martial arts performances, Lion and Dragon dancing troupes and circus acts, along with additional stalls and workshops.

Westquay and the Chinese Association of Southampton will be celebrating on January 26 with a diverse range of entertainment.

From 11am to 3pm, the shopping centre will host performances of 10 live acts and a range of workshops including calligraphy and lantern-making.

All performances and activities will take place on Level 2 of Westquay.

Andy Collyer, General Manager at Westquay said:

"We can’t wait to see the local community come together to celebrate Chinese New Year at Westquay.

"I’d like to thank the Chinese Association of Southampton for all of its efforts in helping to put on such an amazing event."

UK Shaolin Temple will return to finish the festivities with a dazzling display of lights and lanterns on February 8.

Founder of the Southampton based UK Shaolin Temple, Shi Yan Min, said:

"Chinese New Year celebrations are typically full of light and colour - a real feast for the senses.

"The Lantern Parade will be the first of its kind in Southampton and it’s going to be a great event to enjoy with your family and friends."

The parade is scheduled to start at 3.30pm, weather permitting, from the Bargate, finishing at 7pm at the Guildhall Square.

Cllr Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, said:

"Southampton is the place where something is always happening.

"There is strength in our diversity as a city and it is great we can bring communities together to celebrate festivals like Chinese New Year.

"The Lantern Festival is an exciting addition to our packed calendar, with many local children taking part in the parade.

"I hope local families and visitors take full advantage and get involved, I know I will be."