NANJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland and Taiwan launched their first joint lantern festival here Thursday, two days before the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.
Brilliant fireworks shot into the sky at 7:30 p.m. to mark the festival's opening ceremony in Bailuzhou Park, Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province.
More than 300 different lanterns, including 100 from Taiwan, lit up the park running along the Confucius Temple-Qinhuai River scenic belt, kicking off the fair that will run through to March 3.
Two eye-catching phoenix-shaped lanterns - each 17 meters long, 12 meters high and weighing 4.5 tonnes - decorated the bank of the river in the park. A 56-meter long dragon lantern built by Qinhuai craftsman adorned the opposite bank. All the lanterns conveyed the traditional good fortune blessing to the park's visitors.
Visitors can also enjoy the sight of more than 700 Confucius Temple mainland-made lanterns decorating three exquisitely painted boats floating atop the Qinhuai River. Taiwanese compatriots will use lights to create an image of its landmark Taipei 101 building while cable cars cross Sun-Moon Lake.
Jiangsu will also display its traditional Qinhuai lanterns in Chiayi City, Taiwan, during the official Lantern Festival, which falls on Feb. 28 this year.
With a history of 1,500 years, the Qinhuai Lantern Fair entered China's intangible cultural heritage register in 2006.
"The lantern fair will promote cultural, tourist and economic exchanges, and cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan," Ji Jianye, mayor of Nanjing, said at the ceremony.
About 1,000 tourists from Taiwan will visit the Qinhuai Lantern Fair, Janice Lai, head of the Taiwan Strait Tourism Association in Nanjing, said.
Lai said the two sides will continue to expand cross-strait cultural and tourist exchanges this year.