China's footballer Wang Dalei and Chelsea's Frank Lampard kicked off the month-long "China in London 2007" celebrations on Thursday afternoon. Together with London Mayor Ken Livingstone, they signaled the start of the festival by switching on the specially designed Chinese lanterns in downtown London.
London's tourism authority Visiting London was invited for the special occasion along with the visiting Chinese Olympic Football Team to mark the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Following the lantern lighting, "Shanghai Week" was launched to celebrate the creativity and culture of Shanghai, London's sister city. Shanghai Week features the Shanghai 360 degrees photo exhibition at City Hall, with a collection of photographs using panoramic techniques to depict the diversity and changes of Shanghai.
The National Film Theater will also showcase over 15 classic feature and short animation films produced at the Shanghai Animation Studio.
London established representative offices in Shanghai and Beijing last year to boost collaboration with China, particularly on business travel and creative industry.
Mayor Livingstone said: "After the extraordinary success of China in London 2006, I am delighted to host a new season of events, exhibitions, film screenings, and performances around the capital to celebrate all things Chinese. I am particularly looking forward to this season's focus on Shanghai -- one of China's most dynamic and rapidly growing cities."
London's annual Chinese New Year parade, which has developed into the largest in scale outside Asia, attracted over 200,000 spectators last year. "China in London" is also regarded as the largest celebration of the Chinese New Year outside of China.
James Bidwell, chief executive of Visit London, said: "The next two years offer unparalleled opportunities to build closer ties between China and London and to promote a mutual exchange of creativity and cultural traditions. The second China in London season demonstrates London has unrivaled content for both Londoners and visitors to experience and enjoy!"
(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2007)