Yingge dance, folk lanterns attract crowds at Lantern Festival in Shantou

By Li Yuche (Global Times) 10:02, February 26, 2024

Photo: Chen Tao/GT

Photo: Chen Tao/GT

Aiming at celebrating the Chinese Lantern Festival on Saturday, the “2024 Shantou International Lantern Show” has been held at Shantou, a city in Guangdong Province that boasts a large population of returned overseas Chinese from countries such as Thailand and Singapore.

The event has been held at the city’s historical touristic spot called the Shantou Small Park. It was highlighted by performances of several of the city’s famous Yingge dance teams.

The Yingge dance, a folk dancing genre, is no doubt Shantou specialty. Zhang, a 26-year-old dancer, told the Global Times that his team has rehearsed “more than three times” for today’s event, with his team representing Chaoyang Yingge dancing style.

“Although we offer such performances in many special occasions like today’s Lantern Festival and the Spring Festival, we still feel a little bit nervous and competitive for today’s performances because there are so many Yingge dance teams here,” Zhang told the Global Times.

Just as its name suggests, the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival would not be completed without lantern displays. Yet unlike many lantern arts across the country with unique local aesthetics, the Shantou lantern show appears to be much more “international” due to the city’s history of being a centuries-old international port.

Iconic landmarks such as the Merlion statue in Singapore have been designed into creative lanterns displaying at the Shantou Small Park. Those lighting arts demonstrate how the local folk heritage complements with the city’s unique character of being the “hometown for Chinese people returning from overseas.”

Zheng Qiuxing, a local resident who has chosen to return to his home from Malaysia, told the Global Times that the “Chaoshan tradition” is always a light in his heart guiding his “way back home.”

Zheng also said that folk festival as such was also a “great opportunity” to teach his children about the family’s cultural roots.

Other than the dazzling lantern arts, the festival gathering was also enriched with other folk activities like the riddle guessing and also the Chaoshan Opera. Wu Jialing, an opera performer who has debuted with her partner at the 2024 Spring Festival Gala, told the Global Times that the “seeming traditional art” can “now engage more young audiences all around the world” due to the increasing reputation of the local culture.

The public cultural event was participated by locals, tourists, and especially young visitors. Dressed in her favorite hanfu (a traditional Chinese garment), Liang, a young girl at the event, told the Global Times that she “would not let go any traditional events like this to showcase her pride of being a Shantou local.”

Lantern displays at the Shantou Small Park are scheduled to end on March 15.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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