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One of China's most beloved cultural celebrations is the Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival, marking the end of the harvest season. There are written records detailing this festival dating back about 3,000 years, which just shows what a rich and longstanding tradition it is. It is now a Chinese public holiday as well. The main symbol of the festival is the baking and eating of Moon Cakes: round pastries with sweet fillings. In Shanghai the favourite filling is red bean paste. Houses are decorated with coloured animal-shaped paper lanterns and altars are piled with round fruits to symbolise the shape of the moon. The evening is spent moon-gazing and enjoying the company of family, before a celebratory feast at midnight. Apart from being a traditional time for family reunions, the Moon Festival is also a romantic day in the Chinese calendar: many love poems have been written about it. It is thought that it is espacially poignant for couples who are not together because watching the moon separately, from wherever they are, unites them and makes them feel as though they are in the same place. Matchmaking dances often take place for those who are unattached and looking for romance.
China Shanghai International Arts Festival
Shanghai becomes the focus of arts fundis the world over during this month-long festival hosted by the Ministry of Culture. This festival, the only national level international arts festival in the country, has been held annually since 1999, and aims to showcase the best of performing arts from all over the world as well as displaying China's considerable artistic talents. The varied programme features more than 150 performances covering everything from symphony orchestras, dance, and opera to acrobatics, magic and drama. As an example of what's on offer, the 2012 festival programme promises symphony orchestras from San Francisco, Germany, Russia and Australia, a Taiwanese magician, a dance troupe and puppet theatre from Britain, an Irish choir, Peking opera, Chinese National Ballet, Italian opera and ethnic dance from Yunnan, amongst many other things. There are also mass public events and activities, and arts and crafts stalls and the like pop up all over the city. If you are planning a trip to Shanghai bear in mind how vibrant and exciting it is to visit during the International Arts Festival.
Shanghai Tourism Festival
The massive Shanghai Tourism Festival, also called the people's festival, showcases not only all the city has to offer visitors, but is the perfect event for locals and foreigners to discover the fascinating Chinese culture and history. The opening ceremony takes the form of a grand-scale parade of floats and international performance troupes telecast live to the whole country. In 2011, the opening parade consisted of 21 enormous floats and 30 performer teams which captivated crowds, drawing an audience of tens of thousands. The parade has a very mardi gras feel to it with sparkling costumes, dancing and festivities. The floats tour every district in Shanghai after the opening ceremony and audiences vote on their favorite. Millions of locals and visitors participate in the hundreds of events and activities presented at the festival, ranging from Chinese cooking classes and bicycle tours, to fireworks displays. Like the National Arts Festival in Shanghai, the Shanghai Tourism Festival enlivens the city and generates a wonderful festive atmosphere making it a great time to visit the city. Especially as many museums, restaurants and other tourism attractions offer up to 50 percent discounts during the festival!