Among all the joyous festivals celebrated by the people of Hangzhou, the Lantern Festival may be the most pleasing visually as the lanterns and their reflections in water create a kaleidoscope of color.
The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th night of the first lunar month. It marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. This year's Lantern Festival will be on the coming Monday. Many places are preparing for visitors to come and look at the lanterns, play games and watch traditional performances.
Festival lanterns come in various shapes and sizes. Since it is the Year of the Dragon, lanterns of the mythical creature will definitely be the highlight. The longest dragon lantern in the city, about 100 meters, will appear at Canal Plaza in Gongshu District.
Lantern makers say they've made around 100 dragon lanterns this year, and the one at Canal Plaza is the largest they've made in the past 12 years.
Every year the riddle guessing game at Hangzhou Workers' Cultural Palace (2 Renhe Road) attracts thousands of people. Since West Lake was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List last year, Hangzhou Workers' Cultural Palace prepared 1,000 riddles about the city's claim to fame.
The 2012 Xixi Lantern Festival will be held in the newly awarded 5A national scenic spot - Xixi National Wetland Park. The display areas include North Gate, South Gate, Jiang Village Market and Fu Causeway.
The highlight will be at Jiang Village, also known as "Slow Life Community," which, situated near the North Gate of the vast Xixi National Wetland Park, enjoys scenic views and bucolic peacefulness.
Ornamental lanterns will light the entire park, while at Jiang Village, visitors will see lantern shows, live bands, a clown performance and folk performances at the outdoor party.
Also, a traditional temple fair is to be held on Monday night at Xixi. It will feature local handicrafts and snacks, as well as a shadow play, traditional music performances and a lion dance. People are also being encouraged to exchange postcards and gifts with each other.
Lantern and opera shows will be held on many streets and areas in Xihu District.
In Xiacheng District, fashion and harmony are the Lantern Festival themes. West Lake Cultural Square is the main display area. Lanterns will dress up the north-south axis, while games such as riddle guessing and couplet writing will take place at the square.
Eight groups of large lanterns will be arranged around the square, illustrating dragon-related stories such as carp leaping into the dragon's gate, dragon and the phoenix bringing prosperity, and nine flying dragons.
Also, lanterns will decorate Wulin Road, Qingchun Road, Fengqi Road and other major roads in Xiacheng.
If you want to avoid the crowds in the major squares, you can take a ferry. The Caofang Boat on the Grand Canal will pass by West Lake Cultural Square, Xiaohe Street, Qiaoxizhijie Street and other areas of interest. The boat leaves at 7:30pm daily.
All the lantern shows will run from Sunday to Tuesday with the lanterns lit between 6pm and 9pm.