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Temple fairs add romance to Spring Festival in Beijing

Despite the fact that many people will leave the capital during the Spring Festival, there will still be lots going on for those left behind, including a brace of temple fairs that will appeal to the artistic and romantic alike.

With the Valentine's Day falling on the same day as the Lunar New Year, Beijing's temple fair organizer hopes to add a romantic touch to the time-honored event - by hosting the marriage of 10 foreign couples on Feb 14 at Shijingshan Amusement Park, which has held the fair for the past 10 years.


Visitors have fun at last year's temple fair at Shijingshan Amusement Park. [Photo: China Daily/Dong Yibo]

While the double-lucky day should be compelling, Liu Jingwang, general manager of the park and host of the wedding ceremony, said he is still waiting for foreign couples to sign up with just 10 days to go until the big event.

"We will hold a fairytale-style wedding for these couples in front of the park's Cinderella Castle and Ferris Wheel," Liu said.

In addition to the usual amusements, park visitors are expected to have a great time enjoying performances from other countries such as a Japanese fan dance, Korean long-drum dance, Latin dancing, and Russian song and dance performances.

The temple fair, which lasts from Feb 14 to Feb 21, is anticipating 3 million visitors during the Spring Festival.

The 3-millionth tourist will receive a VIP membership, which guarantees free use of all facilities in 2010, Liu said.

The lucky tourist will also be invited to wear a wreath and join the parade.

The amusement park is also looking for 10 foreign students to work as volunteer guides at its temple fair. "They will also enjoy a VIP membership for the whole year," Liu said.

All people interested are welcome to call the park's hotline at 68874060.

And for people looking to touch their souls in an arty and historic way, they can visit the Changdian temple fair in southern Beijing.

Dating back 400 years, the Changdian temple fair is the capital's most acclaimed cultural event

It will feature an exhibition of antiques and calligraphy as well as offer a chance to interact with local artists and craftsmen.

The fair was first developed on Liulichang Street in South Beijing during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

It was known as a venue for colored glaze and later developed into a favorite haunt for scholars, painters and those looking to write, compose and purchase art.

Running from Feb 14 to Feb 18, the antique shops, bookstores, galleries and teahouses along the street will stay open, offering exhibitions of traditional Chinese art, including paintings, calligraphy, pottery vases, bronze ware and ancient books.

And professional artists from the Beijing Fine Arts Association will draw profiles for visitors for free.

"At the same time, the acknowledged antique experts from art auction firms will be invited on Feb 16 to introduce the knowledge of collecting antiques," said Feng Jianhua, vice-general manager of the fair.

"They will also help art lovers to evaluate their collections."

In 2006, the Changdian temple fair was listed as part of the national intangible cultural heritage.

This year, the temple fair will partly be located in the Taoranting Park nearby, where most of the fair's folk art performances will be displayed, Feng said.

Highlights will include exhibitions of traditional handicrafts including clay sculptures, diabolos, Peking Opera masks, colored glazes, shadow puppets and palace lamps.