Ping'an Avenue, a major thoroughfare in downtown Beijing, yesterday became a huge wedding stage with a carnival and parade displaying the matrimonial ceremonies performed by various ethnic groups worldwide.
More than 200,000 local residents and foreign visitors gathered along the parade route to enjoy the occasion, traditionally the most popular event held during the annual Beijing International Cultural Tourism Festival.
Spectators gave the performers a big hand when they marched by, and people were quite excited by Indian wedding dances, Japanese wedding floats and wedding rites performed in Romania and Nepal, as well as those performed by Chinese ethnic groups such as the Miao, Yi and Mongolian minorities.
Besides the wedding marches, more than 2,400 folk artists from 56 countries and regions also participated in yesterday's parade to showcase their arts, culture, music and native dress to entertain visitors.
Yang Shengming, a 72-year-old resident who lives near Ping'an Avenue, rode a pedicab carrying his wife to watch the grand parade.
He said it's the second time that he attended the gala, and last year's parade had left him deeply impressed.
"Today's event is even grander than last year. I am very excited to see so many foreign folk artists and watch their performances," said Yang.
Yang and his wife also participated in another carnival event on Saturday at Shichahai Lake, which featured folk customs performances by ethnic groups.
In fact, eight major parks in Beijing including Shichahai Lake organized various events on Saturday to celebrate the cultural tourism festival.
This is the sixth year for the Beijing International Cultural Tourism Festival, which is being held between October 17 and 20.
Today, a score of foreign troupes with more than 700 artists will go to Zhenggezhuang Village in northern Beijing's Changping District and have a get-together with local farmers, according to the Beijing Tourism Bureau, which is the organizer of the festival.
The village was previously a poverty-stricken area with yearly incomes of less than 500 yuan (US$60) per person in the early 1980s.
The villagers there now enjoy a 18,000 yuan (US$2,180) income per person annually, according to the tourism bureau.
(China Daily October 20, 2003)