Holiday crowds gathered to watch traditional lion dancing as Beijing's largest temple fair opened its gates on Sunday (January 25). According to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the year of the ox begins on January 26, 2009.
Temple fairs have been a traditional feature of lunar new year celebrations for centuries. Despite the looming worry of the global economic crisis, many visitors to the fair were in a festive mood.
Vendors compete noisily to sell their goods, advertising their wares in broad Beijing accents, while crowds jostle to watch dancers and actors perform shows. Each fair offers a variety of performances and activities. Organisers believe the fair's popularity had grown over the years and more and more people were keen to celebrate the revived traditions.