Hong Kong prepares for New Years-Valentines Day double date

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The Independent Online

Sometimes the stars are aligned. And that's what has happened this year with the Chinese New Year falling on February 14, which just also happens to be Valentine's Day.

So we have China's biggest annual celebration coinciding with the western world's big day out for romance. And for tourism bosses here in Hong Kong, it is an opportunity too good to miss.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board is using the attractions of the new year - specifically the annual Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade (http://www.discoverhongkong.com) - to highlight its Festive Hong Kong 2010 publicity push.

And it is urging local retailers, restaurants and bars to link the parade to Valentines Day's - and to stay open as late as they can so everyone can join in the fun.

"Hong Kong enjoys a global reputation for its vibrant Chinese New Year celebrations, which give the perfect setting for rolling out our annual marketing platform Festive Hong Kong 2010, when we will show to the world the excitement that awaits our visitors,'' said a HKTB spokesperson, on announcing the new route Hong Kong's parade will take this year.

Following the urgings of the local tourism industry, the HKTB has this year arranged for the procession to head right down Nathan Road in the heart of the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district by the Hong Kong waterfront.

The event will also help promote the city's other major festivals in 2010 - among them the historic Bun Festival on the outlying island of Cheung Chau, as well as Halloween and Christmas, which have risen in prominence as events more recently.

More than 40 performing groups from 14 countries and regions will feature in the parade on 14 decorated floats. Among the international visitors will be groups representing the Notting Hill Carnival from the UK, Morioka Sansa Odori Dance from Japan, the Arezzo Flag Wavers from Italy and the Paris Firemen from France.

Parades are traditionally at the centre of Chinese New Year celebrations and they are held in some of the world's major cities including San Francisco, which boasts the largest parade outside China.