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200,000 visit Beijing parks on first day of Spring Festival


14:24, January 24, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 200,000 local residents and tourists visited parks in Beijing on Monday as a series of celebrations were hosted to mark the first day of the Chinese lunar New Year, the city's park administration said.

Festive activities kicked off at Beijing's famous parks, including the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Beihai Park, on Monday to welcome the Year of the Dragon, said Chen Zhiqiang, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Administration Center of Parks.

At the Temple of Heaven, 320 costumed performers on Monday staged a show presenting the royal heaven worship ceremony in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In the one-hour ceremony, thousands of visitors watched as the royal parade marched toward the altar where the "emperor" held a ritual to pray for peace and good harvest in the coming year.

At the Summer Palace, the ancient royal garden, a traditional fair opened to public with old-fashioned shops and stands selling items and snacks popular in the old days.

The Chinese New Year, which begins on Monday this year, is an important occasion for family dinners, fireworks, and a trip to temple fairs.

To cope with the increase in visitors, authorities in Beijing said they have deployed seven police choppers and 910,000 order-maintaining personnel across the city to prevent the breakout of fires and stampedes.


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