Ditan Temple Fair is always guaranteed to pull in the crowds
Visitors flocking to Beijing around the Spring Festival often regard a trip to one of the city's temple fairs a must.
Many regard the best of the bunch as Ditan (the Temple of Earth) Park.
It was here that emperors would make sacrifices to please the earth gods. The park comes alive once a year during the Chinese Spring Festival when extravagant miaohui festivals are held to welcome the spring planting season.
With a solemn atmosphere and a long history, this park contains the only altar which has been preserved to the present day.
Visitors usually enjoy a visit to the temple fair thanks to its roots in Chinese folk culture and its surrounding with imperial architectural styles, magnificent exteriors and low walls.
This year's temple fair is tipped to be the most magnificent yet.
A fair following the traditions of the Ming and Qing dynasties, Ditan Temple Fair has added lots of new programmes.
This year's fair opens with a performance imitating the Qing Dynasty sacrificial ceremony. Activities and events during the fair will include folk performances, fashion shows and a food street.
The following is the detailed programme schedule of this year's Ditan Temple Fair.
nOpening ceremony: 9:30 am, January 30. Sacrifice offering ceremony for the god of Earth will be included. All these performers, dressed in Qing imperial-style clothes, will be led by an "emperor" for a parade in the park. Other exciting folk performances will follow the parade on that day. Many choose to visit on January 30, the first day of the 8-day temple fair. After that date, visitor numbers will rise dramatically for the 7-day national holiday which begins on February 1. During the Spring Festival and the 7-day holiday, daily visitor numbers to Ditan Temple Fair usually reach 120,000.
Sacrifice offering ceremony for the god of Earth and performance: 1:00-1:30 pm, daily from January 30 to February 7.
nFolk art performances: At the northeast corner of the Sacrifice Altar in the park; 10 am to 12:30 at noon and 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, daily from January 30 to February 7.
Visitor Karaoke performance: South side of the Sacrifice Altar; 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, daily from January 30 to February 7.
Children's puppet show: Inside the North Gate of the park; 10:00-11:00, 11:30-12:30, 1:00-2:00 pm, 2:30-3:30 pm, daily from January 30 to February 7.
In Fangzhexuan Hall, 9:30-10;30 am, 11:00-12:00, 1:30-2:30 pm, 3:00-4:00, pm, daily from January 30 to February 7.
Varied kinds of exhibitions: daily from January 30 to February 7.
Ice lantern and snow sculpture show: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, daily till February 15.
Also look out for food streets, Chinese folk and art goods, pottery, pot flowers and plants, cheap books, VCDs, DVDs and sports.
To get there, Yonghegong subway, bus 13, 62 for the south gate; trolley bus 104, 108, or bus 27, 358, 119, 407, 328, 803 or 912 for west gate. Also Andingmen subway.
Ticket price: 6 yuan (72 US cents) for individuals, 5 yuan (60 US cents) for groups.
For more information: 64214657
(Beijing Weekend January 25, 2003)