Online Lantern Festival celebrations bring Chinese New Year to an end

Today is Lantern Festival (元宵节) which takes place on the fifteenth day of the first lunar calendar month. As the final day of the Chinese New Year holiday, people use the occasion to spend time with friends and family and visit tourist destinations. It is also common to enjoy the moon, set off lanterns and eat glutinous sweet dumplings (tangyuan 汤圆).

As with most notable events, Lantern Festival has been widely discussed on the Chinese news and trends site Weibo and has so far received 4.26 billion views and 6.61 million comments today. The hashtag “competition to share your tangyuan” gained 32.16 million views and 16,000 comments with users sharing pictures and recipes of the festive sweet treat.

Weibo Festival teamed up with car brand MINI’s Weibo account to launch a special hashtag for the festival, “loving each other is just like a reunion”. They encouraged users to share their Lantern Festival wishes to be in with the chance of winning digital red envelopes.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV is hosting a special Lantern Festival Gala at 20:00 China time. Based on the theme of ‘Happy Flower and Full Moon Lantern Night’, the event will feature songs, dances, sketches, acrobatics, martial arts and magic performances. It has been widely discussed on Weibo with the related hashtags reaching 480 million views as many netizens commented that they are eagerly awaiting the performances of Wang Yibo and Liu Yuning.

As the holiday draws to a close, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has announced the festival’s impact on the travel industry. A re-emergence of COVID-19 cases prior to Chinese New Year resulted in travel restrictions. However, a substantial 256 million domestic trips were made during the sixteen-day period, a 15.7% increase on last year, yet, still only 75.3% of pre-COVID levels. The total tourism revenue for the period was 301 billion RMB ($46.5 billion), which represents 58.6% of the same period before the pandemic.

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