Sunday 23 October 2016

The pleasure list: Happy Chinese New Year

Published 01/02/2016 | 02:30

Celebrations: The Dublin Chinese New Year Festival runs from February 6 to 21.
Celebrations: The Dublin Chinese New Year Festival runs from February 6 to 21.
Tchi tea
Red Rufus SockAnimals
BT art

Delightful things happen in Dublin during the Chinese New Year - like a dragon puppet dancing its way up George's Street, or a parade of lighted paper lanterns on Dame Street.

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Considered one of the most colourful and creative festivals in Dublin's calendar, the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival returns on February 6 to welcome in the Year of the Monkey.

It will run until February 21, with some performers flying in from China to give Dubliners a true sense of Chinese traditions.

The Spring Festival Carnival Experience in The chq Building, Custom House Quay, is a two-day event showcasing Chinese traditions from lantern-making to tea-tasting to cookery demonstrations - and all brought to life against a backdrop of dragons and lions, and even a visit from the Chinese Monkey King.

You'll also have a chance to experience the best of Chinese cuisine from dumplings to wontons: A Bite of China with Asia Market is a special guided tour of the Market in Drury Street, with information on how to prepare and cook an authentic Chinese meal.

And finally - don't miss the Meet the Monkeys Workshop at Dublin Zoo.

Move over Mrs Doyle - the tea master's in town

You will, you will, you will. . . try out the latest offering from the tea master in the Merrion Hotel that is.

A selection of Tchi Drinks will be served until the end of March in the drawing rooms, Cellar Bar and the Tethra Spa in the Merrion by tea master Laura McGinn, who is a true expert having trained on the international Ronnefeldt Tea Master programme.

Drawing inspiration from the Chinese philosophy of ch'i (pronounced tchee) Tchi Drinks aim to ensure a steady flow of energy to harmonise both body and mind.

The drinks are based on berries, roots and plants that have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, and are created through infusion - to preserve healing properties and taste.

The Tchi Drinks on the menu in the Merrion are rose and honey tea (to relieve fatigue); date, longan and goji tea (considered to be anti-​­inflammatory) and jasmine tea, thought to help with weight loss.

Boring old socks reborn as a range of adorable animal toys

Red Rufus SockAnimals are knock-out adorable, and the playful and vibrant soft toys are handmade in Ireland from the very best quality socks.  Founder Christina Sanne says she was inspired to make the toys by the ebullient charm of Rufus, her Irish setter.

And following on the success of SockRufus, she created SockElephant, SockLion, SockMonkey and SockBear (who wears a woolly jumper and an Irish tweed skirt). Of course, SockSheep is a massive hit with the tourists.

"I have no formal training in sewing or design, but I have such a passion for both," Christina says. "I've explored construction and production methods, challenging myself continuously to produce a higher standard of design and quality of handiwork.

"I love the constraint of using a pair of socks as the starting point for my playful creations," Christina says of her enchanting toys.

These adorable rascals are waiting to bring children comfort and joy.

Making treasures from trash

Brown Thomas on Grafton Street just got more alluring: a group of young students from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) is displaying some spectacularly original artworks in the store's windows.

The students have taken everyday objects such as plastic bottles and chopsticks and turned them into wonderful works of art, completely unrecognisable from their original form and purpose.

The bottles have been turned into an amazing chandelier, while the chopsticks have been used to make an elegant sculpture. A radiator has been converted into a chair.

The project, entitled The Gallery of Found Art, is a collaboration between the creative team at Brown Thomas and second year students of textile, jewellery, glass and metalwork at NCAD. As John Redmond, creative director of the Brown Thomas group, says: "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

And these treasures can be enjoyed by anyone strolling along Grafton Street until February 21.

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