20 April, 2024
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Shantou Lantern Festival draws crowds with Yingge dance and folk lanterns


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The “2024 Shantou International Lantern Show” is set to illuminate the city of Shantou in Guangdong Province, in honor of the Chinese Lantern Festival this Saturday. Shantou, known for its significant population of returned overseas Chinese from nations like Thailand and Singapore, is hosting this vibrant celebration.

Taking place at Shantou Small Park, a renowned historical tourist destination, the event showcased captivating performances by various celebrated Yingge dance teams from the city. The Yingge dance, a cherished folk dancing tradition, holds a special place in Shantou’s cultural identity. Zhang, a 26-year-old dancer, shared with the Global Times that his team, embodying the Chaoyang Yingge style, diligently rehearsed “more than three times” in preparation for today’s festivities.

“Despite regularly presenting performances on special occasions such as today’s Lantern Festival and the Spring Festival, we still feel a hint of nervousness and competitiveness due to the presence of numerous Yingge dance teams”, Zhang expressed to the Global Times.

True to its name, the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival is synonymous with vibrant lantern displays. However, unlike many lantern festivals showcasing distinct local aesthetics, the Shantou lantern show boasts an unmistakably “international” flair, owing to the city’s rich history as an ancient international port. Creative lantern designs featuring iconic landmarks like the Merlion statue from Singapore adorn Shantou Small Park, showcasing a fusion of local folk heritage with the city’s unique identity as a “hometown for Chinese people returning from overseas”.

Zheng Qiuxing, a resident who made the decision to return to his hometown from Malaysia, expressed to the Global Times that the “Chaoshan tradition” serves as a beacon in his heart, guiding his journey back home. He emphasized that festivals like this provide a valuable opportunity to pass down his family’s cultural heritage to his children, reinforcing their connection to their roots.

In addition to the spectacular lantern displays, the festival was further enriched with a variety of folk activities, including riddle guessing and Chaoshan Opera performances. Wu Jialing, an opera performer who made her debut with her partner at the 2024 Spring Festival Gala, remarked to the Global Times that this seemingly traditional art form now has the ability to captivate a wider audience worldwide, thanks to the growing recognition of local culture.

The public cultural event attracted locals, tourists, and particularly young visitors. Adorned in her favorite hanfu (a traditional Chinese garment), Liang, a young attendee, expressed to the Global Times her determination to seize every opportunity to participate in traditional events like this, showcasing her pride in being a Shantou local.

Lantern displays at Shantou Small Park are scheduled to conclude on March 15, 2024.

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