02-05-2007 15:50

Special Report:   2007 Spring Festival

What is the show of the year? Before pop concerts became staple events and global warming threatened to turn mid-February into early April, Chinese people used to celebrate the Spring Festival by cuddling up on their comfy home sofas and watching the CCTV Spring Festival Song-and-Dance Gala And they still can today, nearly two decades after the annual tv special first took to the airwaves.

Its two decades on and many other dishes have now appeared on what was previously a one-course entertainment menu. Be it regular concert-going or holidaying in foreign lands,the tv gala now faces a host of competition. The show is traditionbally broadcast live on the very last day of the "old year", from early evening in to the wee small hours the new year.

To keep audiences glued to the screen at a time when televised stage shows have long reached a saturation point, is no easy task. And each year, directors and artists beat their brains out for untried ideas that, if they are good enough, may just win the hearts of the viewers.

This year, the show has as strong political underpinning - "A Merry and Harmonious New Year" as it is called. It echoes strongly the idea of "building a harmonious society", the catch-phrase for the government's efforts to narrow the widening gap between the country's rich and poor.

This year the five-hour show - densely packed with numerous elements - will be divided into several segments each one featuring a special theme such as "family love" and "patriotism", which will be seemlessly joined by the as ever elaborately choreographed singing and dancing.

From classical music to kong-fu, from comic double acts to acrobatics, the Spring Festival gala has it all a festival feast with something for everyone.