Confucius Institute

Providing Chinese language teaching and cultural classes and events to the North East Scotland community


The Confucius Institute of the University of Aberdeen is dedicated to promoting the learning of Chinese language and culture.

We offer a range of Chinese cultural activities including Chinese calligraphy, music, dance, and Tai Chi and Qigong classes.

Chinese Music


The guzheng, also known as a Chinese zither, is a traditional Chinese plucked instrument with a long history. It has a beautiful and distinctive sound which is evocative of China. The Confucius Institute is delighted to be able to offer guzheng classes, both in small groups and one-to-one.

The group guzheng classes (for up to 5 adults) will run in the Confucius Institute on Thursdays, 5pm-6pm, for 5 weeks starting the week beginning 20th February. The course costs £70/£35 concession (UoA staff and alumni, students from UoA, RGU or NESCOL).

  • register your place here.

One-to-one guzheng tuition is suitable for both adults and children and would take place in the Confucius Institute. Tuition costs £10 per hour with a minimum purchase reqiurement of 10 hours. To arrange one-to-one tuition, contact us at

Tai Chi and Qigong

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a form of gentle Chinese exercise, focusing on posture, alignment and breathing. ‘Meditation in Motion’ practised regularly helps to reduce stress and improve physical well-being. 

The Confucius Institute is pleased to offer an introductory course of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) taught by Matthew Knight.

Adult Classes (suitable for 14yrs+)

  • Wednesday 12 noon  1pm
  • Term 1: 24th January – 21st February (5 weeks)
  • Term 2: 28th February – 27th March (5 weeks)
  • Dunbar Street Hall, Dunbar St, Old Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UJ
  • Cost per course: £25 full price/£20 discounted price*

*University of Aberdeen staff, students and alumni; and RGU & NESCOL students 

Registration is via the University of Aberdeen online store.

For queries and to register your interest and be kept up to date with details of future courses please email us at


We are pleased to now be able to offer a Qigong class. Qigong is closely related to Tai Chi. One key difference between them, however, is that while Tai Chi is rooted in martial art, Qigong is focused on cultivating energy (or 'Qi'), calming the mind and gently relaxing the body. Indeed 'Qigong' can be translated as 'energy work' and it can be defined as breathing exercises.

Qigong is thought to be specific at improving certain areas of the body such as the internal organs. Tutor Matthew Knight will focus on Five Animals (Wu Xing) Qigong. 

The Wudang Five Animals are an ancient Taoist practice designed to improve health and longevity and bring harmony to mind and body. Each animal corresponds to a particular internal organ, for instance in this ten-week course we will focus on the Tiger form. Learning the Tiger form improves and balances the lungs and respiratory functions of the body in accordance with Classical Chinese Medicine.

Other benefits to regular practice of this form are to open the joints, lengthen the tendons, strengthen muscles and improve balance.

Adult Classes (suitable for 14yrs+)

  • Wednesday 7pm - 8pm
  • Term 1: 24th January – 21st February (5 weeks)
  • Term 2: 28th February – 27th March (5 weeks)
  • Dunbar Street Hall, Dunbar St, Old Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UJ
  • Cost per course: £25 full price/£20 discounted price*

*University of Aberdeen staff, students and alumni; and RGU & NESCOL students

 Registration is via the University of Aberdeen online store.

For queries and to register your interest and be kept up to date with details of future courses please email us at

Matthew Knight has studied Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) and Qigong (Chi Kung) since 1998 with his teacher Tina Faulkner Elders and the Ruyi School of Taijiquan and Qigong. His personal training continues with the Ruyi School and includes working with Master Chen Li Sheng on Wudang Mountain in China.

Chinese Dance

Chinese dance is an important part of Chinese culture and is enjoyed by people of all ages.  It can help improve coordination, balance and flexibility and is also a fun way to meet new friends. 

Traditional Chinese dance takes many forms such as Chinese Folk Dance, which includes Ribbon Dance and Handkerchief Dance, Chinese Fan Dance, Chinese Flag Dance and Kung Fu Dance. 

Niu Xiaolin of RedPhoenix Dance aims to promote traditional Chinese dance culture throughout the local area. 

Classes are held in the Ferryhill Community Centre, Albury Road, Aberdeen AB11 6TL.


Term Dates

16th September – 7th October 

4th November – 16th December

27th January – 23rd March

Chinese New Year performance

Saturday 24th February 2024

27th April – 29th June


Class Group Day & Time
Chinese Folk Dance Adults Saturday 9.30am – 10.30am
Chinese Folk Dance P3–P7 girls Saturday 10.30am – 11.30am
Chinese Kung Fu Dance P3–P7 boys Saturday 11.30am – 12.30pm

Chopstick Dance 

Wide spread in Inner Mongolia, this dance is often seen at festivals. Dancers stand in one spot and, holding chopsticks in one or both hands, clap their hands, shoulders, waist and legs, with them.

Chinese Folk Dance 

Based on traditional ribbon and handkerchief dances

Chinese Lion Dance & Flag Dance 

Based on Chinese martial arts movements

Kung Fu Fan Dance

Based on Chinese martial arts, this dance adds beauty to traditional Tai Chi or Kung Fu exercises.

Suitable for all abilities. All courses are free with a £30 per annum administration fee. Register online.

For queries please email us at

Conversation Corner

Free Mandarin conversation practice

  • Confucius Institute
  • Thursdays (during termtime)
  • Time: 5pm-6pm  

Learning Mandarin or interested in finding out more?

Practise your Mandarin skills in our free, informal conversation group.

All levels are welcome from beginner through to advanced.

We will have weekly topics for discussion, supplied in advance, to get the conversation flowing.

Our native-speaking volunteers are happy to help with Mandarin speaking practice and answer questions about China. 

If you are interested, please email us at to request the online meeting link.

Native Mandarin speakers

Do you enjoy meeting new people? Are you happy chatting about Chinese language and culture? Why not come along to our Chinese Corner and make some new friends. New Mandarin speakers are always welcome.


Calligraphy Workshops


Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese calligraphy is the ancient art of Chinese writing. Classes in Chinese Calligraphy at the Confucius Institute are suitable for both the beginner and improver. With small classes there is plenty of personal attention and printed handouts are provided for home practice.

All materials are provided.

Saturday 4th November, 1pm-3pm

Saturday 9th March, 1pm-3pm

Cost: £15

Registration is via the University of Aberdden online store. Places are limited so advance booking is essential. For queries and to express an interest in future classes please email us at

Chinese Brush Painting Workshop

Discover the fascinating art of Chinese brush painting and try your hand at this expressive art form with artist Chi Zhang. These workshops are suitable for beginners or people who have painting experience but have never tried Chinese brush painting techniques before. No prior knowledge is necessary, you should simply be keen to learn and willing to hold a brush. All tools and materials used during the workshop will be supplied.

Chinese Brush Painting Workshop - Orchids

Saturday 16th March, 10am-12 noon

Cost £20

Discover the cultural richness of Asian traditions, with a focus on the symbolic importance of orchids in China and Japan. This workshop delves into Chinese brush painting techniques, capturing the beauty and elegance of orchids. Experience the therapeutic nature of art, nurture personal expression and gain insights into the historical context of Chinese painting.

Register your place here.

Chinese Brush Painting Workshop - Lotus

Saturday 16th March, 1pm-3pm                      

Cost £20

Explore the cultural significance of the lotus in China, where it symbolizes perfection and purity of heart and mind. This workshop, utilizing Chinese soft brushes, ink, and colours, teaches the art of freehand style painting. You will create at least three beautiful lotus flower paintings, making it a productive and enjoyable experience.

Register your place here.

These workshops are suitable for adults and older children (14 yrs+).

For queries and to express an interest in future classes, please email us at


Chinese Arts and Crafts

Come along to our free Calligraphy and Craft session where you can try your hand at the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy and also enjoy a selection of other traditional Chinese crafts.

Wednesday 15th February, 10am–2pm

Register your place on Eventbrite.

Mandarin Bookbug


Join us for a fun, friendly session of Mandarin stories and songs for pre-school children and their families and carers. You don't have to be a Chinese speaker to enjoy the session, it's a great opportunity to spend some time with your little one and maybe learn something new together.

Satrurday (once per month), 10.30am-11.00am.

Free, drop-in (booking is available on Eventbrite):


Chinese Kite competition

Chinese Kite Competition

We recently hosted a Chinese kite design competition for local schools. Two winning designs from each age category (P1-P2; P3-P4 and P5-P7) were chosen to be made into a kite as a prize. Nearly 500 entries were received. Here are the fantastic winning designs.

P1-P2 winners: Jorgie and Letycja

P3-P4 winners: Emily and Millie

P5-P7 winners: Robyn and Max










Chinese New Year

Spring Gala Show: A New Year Celebration

Experience the magic of the Spring Festival Gala spectacle. With spellbinding dance routines by RedPhoenix Dance and the powerful artistry of Yee’s Hung Ga Kung Fu, our stage will be adorned with the brilliance of Chinese culture. Immerse yourself in the enchanting melodies of traditional Chinese music and in the diversity of Chinese heritage, all in our vibrant Spring Gala Show!

Saturday 24th February, 7.30pm


Sunday 25th February, 3pm

Tivoli Theatre

Tickets cost £9 (£4.50 concession) and are available now from Aberdeen Performing Arts.


Spring Festival Family Fun Day

Our Spring Festival Family Fun Day promises something for everyone to enjoy as we usher in the Year of the Dragon.

Participate in the various activities offered by the Confucius Institute, including the art of Chinese calligraphy, traditional games, and crafting vibrant dragon creations. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Chinese characters as you create your own masterpiece to take home. Test your skills with chopsticks or feather shuttlecock keepie-uppie and aim for a spot on the leaderboard.

Don one of our charming costumes and capture memories in our photo booth. Engage with the spirit of the dragon by crafting your own dragon mask or paper puppet, celebrating the Year of the Dragon in style. Complete our activity sheet to claim a dragon-themed prize and refuel with delicious noodles from the pop-up Noodle Shack café for lunch.

Delve into captivating dragon tales with local storyteller Pauline Cordiner or add a splash of colour with face painting by Love Rara and much more. And why not make a day of it by visiting the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens or recharging at the Sir Duncan Rice Library café.

All are welcome to join us for this enriching event, completely free of charge.

Sunday 18th February 2024

10am - 4pm

Elphinstone Hall

Free / Drop in

Online booking available