Celebrations of the 2019 Hangzhou International Day, featuring the theme “Link Hangzhou to the World,” start on Thursday.

The annual festive event launched last year is designed to attract tourists, as well as develop Hangzhou’s digital and cultural economies.

The city’s first English newspaper, Hangzhoufeel, is launched today.

Chinese and foreign folk performances, including ink-wash dance and lamp rolling as well as Colombian dance and Venezuelan music, will be staged after the opening ceremony.

Renowned troupe Cirque Du Soleil now has a permanent show in Hangzhou.

Government officials from Verona, Italy, have been invited to attend the celebrations.

Feel the love as links to world celebrated

Wu Huixin / SHINE

Federico Sboarina, mayor of Verona, Italy, learns Chinese calligraphy.

The “Digital Economy and Smart City” forum was held yesterday, with representatives from home and abroad.

Yesterday Verona Mayor Federico Sboarina led his team to visit a series of attractions in Hangzhou, including the Wansong Academy.

The academy has helped spread Confucianism and is known for its classes by eminent scholars. It is believed to date back as far as the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

In the story “The Butterfly Lovers,” which is often described as China’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the two main characters, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, meet at the academy as classmates.

On the other side of the world, Shakespeare’s love story “Romeo and Juliet” took place in Verona. The ancient city was inscribed onto the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage because of its artistic heritage and ancient buildings. Juliet’s house is presented in Verona, welcoming visitors from around the world.

“Love stories build a bridge for cultural exchanges between Hangzhou and Verona,” said Luca Zanotto, vice mayor of Verona.

“When performances from China and Italy were put on together at the ancient Wansong Academy, I found people in the two cities share similar emotions.”

A cultural exchange center was established at the academy under the cooperation of Verona and Hangzhou governments. It is expected to be a bridge linking Italy and China and to boost future exchanges.

“Hangzhou is a unique city because it boasts a world cultural heritage, the West Lake, that integrates nature with the downtown perfectly,” said Zanotto.

A free International Day exhibition is being staged at the Culture Wave City of Qianjiang.

Nine Hangzhou pavilions will be set up showcasing local characteristics and economic development. Highlights include Hangzhou’s intangible cultural heritage and links with sister cities.

Meanwhile, 20 other pavilions will display special cultural products and delicacies from countries such as Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, India and Turkey.

Guests can also get a hands-on experience with local craft-making. They can collect stamps from each pavilion on a souvenir passport at the cost of 12 yuan (US$1.7). Lighting, drone and VR shows are also planned.

• Opening ceremony

Date: September 5, 9am

Venue: InterContinental Hangzhou, 2 Jiefang Rd E.

• International gala show

Date: September 5, 11:30am-12:30pm, 6-7:30pm

Venue: Southern square of Citizens’ Center, 311 Xingye Rd

• International Day exhibition

Date: September 5-8, 9am-6pm

Venue: Culture Wave City, 8 Jiefang Rd E.

• Lighting show

Date: September 5, 8pm; September 6-7, 7:30pm, 8:30pm

Venue: Citizens’ Center, 311 Xingye Rd

• Drone show

Date: September 5, 8pm,

Venue: City Balcony, intersection of Jiefang and Zhijiang roads