ZHOUZHUANG, China, Feb. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of new year visitors to the ancient Chinese water town of Zhouzhuang rose by nearly 25% from 2015, as more and more people came to take part in the traditional celebrations.
In Zhouzhuang, the ceremony on January 1 began in the morning when an actor portraying the legendary 14th century Ming Dynasty business mogul Shen Wansan appeared in front of the Ancient Archway to preside over the opening ritual as town master.
Dressed in a festive robe and black boots, Shen led his whole family to worship the ancestors, presented tributes, lit candles, burned incense and gave a speech wishing for a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.
The ceremony then continued as a parade with musicians and Chinese opera figures following Shen to pass on the blessings and good wishes to everyone in the town. The tourists who visited Zhouzhuang that day joined the parade to wander through the ancient streets and lanes.
"Celebrating the New Year's Day with such a cheerful crowd in the historic water town was truly an amazing experience," said Sam Miller, a visitor from the United States who came to Zhouzhuang on New Year's Day. "I followed the parade so hopefully that will bring me good luck in the new year."
The New Year's Day celebration in Zhouzhuang also featured traditional folk events such as dragon and lion dances, picking flower baskets, da lian xiang (a folk dance performed with bamboo sticks inlayed with copper coins), swinging boats in the lake and rowing fast boats, all of which bestow good new year wishes on local residents and tourists.
"The grand ritual ceremony has thousands of years of history," said Mr. Zhang, general manager of Jiangsu Water-town Zhouzhuang Tourism Company. "We hosted this special event with the hope of celebrating the New Year's Day with guests from different countries. It not only revived the traditions and folk customs for Chinese visitors, but also provided international visitors an opportunity to experience the festive spirit of the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year."
Zhouzhuang is devoted to preserving a piece of China's ancient culture and offers a comprehensive and immersive experience so visitors can understand more about Chinese history. Through celebrating festivals and traditions passed on from one generation to another, visitors get to see cultural spectacles that no longer exist in modern cities.
The town also hosted a series of events to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year from February 8, which included a 15-day carnival and traditional activities like da chun niu (an agricultural ritual featuring a gold-colored ox to wish for good harvest), a waterway parade and welcoming the God of Wealth on the fifth day.
Zhouzhuang is known for its serene natural scenery and rich cultural and historical heritage. The famous water town is one of only two Chinese locations listed on the New York Times "World's 52 Places to Go in 2015." Less than an hour's drive from Shanghai, Zhouzhuang attracts over three million tourists annually and is also known as "China's Number 1 Water Town" and "the Venice of the East." Jiangsu Water-town Zhouzhuang Tourism Company hosts several annual events and fairs for visitors to get an immersive cultural experience in the well-preserved water town.
SOURCE Jiangsu Water Town Zhouzhuang Tourism Co, Ltd.