A series of traditional Chinese performances and shows highlighted the opening of the Chinese Festival on Thursday at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park.

The four-day festival celebrates China’s rich cultural heritage with an itinerary of exciting activities, shows, and exhibitions, including the popular Dragon dance, Haining Shadow puppet play, and Pingyang puppet show, among others.

Visitors will have the opportunity to witness some of Zhejiang’s leading musicians and performers live, “as well as experience and engage with Chinese culture” in Doha in a unique and colourful outdoor setting at the MIA Park.

Organisers have set up a Chinese market that offers a variety of items and souvenirs, food stalls, a Chinese tea house, children’s play area, photography exhibition space, and a main stage, where the performances are taking place.

“We are very excited to host this dynamic festival that promotes an understanding, celebration and appreciation of Chinese culture, traditions and people, in Qatar,” said Qatar Museums public and international relations director Mohamed al-Othman, who was joined by Chinese ambassador Li Chen, and Qatar Museums acting CEO Mansoor bin Ebrahim al-Mahmoud at the opening of the festival.

The official hopes to draw a large number of visitors to the festival, which is a key part of the Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture presented by Qatar Museums, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture of China and the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture.

The event also features a number of musical performances, films, children’s activities and authentic Chinese cuisine.

Organisers have divided the festival into different zones aimed at providing visitors and guests with “the ultimate Chinese experience.”

Musical shows, traditional dances, Chinese tea ceremonies and calligraphy demonstrations are taking place at the entertainment zone.

The exhibition zone hosts a photography exhibition, which features the work of four Chinese and two Qatari photographers, who travelled to each other’s countries on a two-week expedition to understand and visually communicate a way of life different from their own.

The market zone showcases a variety of arts and crafts activities including woodblock printing, rice sculpture and kite making workshops and a puppet show. It also gives visitors a chance to try a variety of local and Chinese delicacies.

The Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture, which will conclude next month, is part of the landmark ‘Years of Culture’ initiative, designed to deepen understanding between nations and their people through mutual exchanges of arts, culture, heritage and sport, according to organisers.

Several exhibitions and activities had been organised in Qatar and China as part of this year’s programme. These include ‘What About the Art: Contemporary Art from China’, an exhibition of 15 contemporary Chinese artists curated by internationally acclaimed New York based Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang; ‘Silks from the Silk Road – Chinese Silk Art’, an exhibition that was on show at the QM Gallery Katara; the Treasures of China exhibition, which is currently on show at MIA; and Pearls: Treasures from the Seas and the Rivers, an exhibition organised jointly by Qatar Museums and the National Museum of China, currently on show at the National Museum of China in Beijing.

The Chinese festival will be open from 2pm to 10pm today and tomorrow, and from 10am to 10pm on Saturday.

Qatar Airways is the official airline sponsor of the Years of Culture initiative, while the Shangri La Hotel group is the official hospitality sponsor.

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