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Free Qixi Festival events canceled

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)

14:42, August 21, 2012

Tourists pass by a sign in front of Haixinsha Park announcing the cancelation of free carnivals for the Qixi Festival at Guangzhou, Guangdong province on Monday. (Zou Zhongpin / China Daily)

The planned free Qixi Festival carnivals in Haixinsha Park have been canceled without any prior announcement, angering many Guangzhou residents and visitors.

According to a notice at the entrance of the park, all the carnival events for the festival have been canceled, and visitors will have to pay for entrance tickets.

An official from the Tianhe district government admitted that the carnival events were suddenly called off without any warning to the public.

"It is because of typhoon Kai-Tak, which slammed into Guangdong province over the weekend. We didn't have enough time to organize a press conference to let the public know," said the official who wished to remain anonymous.

But another local government official, who also did not want to be named, said the events were canceled because they could not reach an agreement with the park for organizing the carnivals for free. "Typhoon Kai-Tak is just a good excuse."

In late June, the Tianhe district government published a notice announcing that free carnivals were planned in Haixinsha, a Pearl River island in the city, from Aug 19 to 26 to celebrate the Qixi Festival, a traditional day of romance in China.

The district government printed 770,000 free-admittance tickets, but didn't send out.

Haixinsha, site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Guangzhou Asian Games in November 2010, now charges residents and tourists 30 yuan ($4.80) to get in.

The island has come to be known as a must-see scenic spot in the southern metropolis since the Asian Games.

"I was very disappointed to learn the Qixi Festival carnivals were called off and I'd have to pay for a ticket to visit Haixinsha," said Zeng Chuanbing, a Guangzhou resident, at the entrance to the island.

Zeng said he had invited friends from outside Guangzhou to visit Haixinsha for the free visitors day on Sunday.

"But I had to give up the idea. Actually, Haixinsha isn't worth buying tickets to visit," he said.

"Haixinsha is not a scenic spot. It's a sports park and known around the country only since the 2010 Asian Games," he added.

He said the government departments involved should allow residents and tourists to visit the island for free as soon as possible.

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