3 Surprising Things From This Year’s Spring Festival Gala

Chunwan, China’s biggest TV event of the year, is the country’s most watched and most scrutinized show. This year’s edition largely received praise from the public.

From ancient Chinese poetry to a French musical number, this year’s Spring Festival Gala, China’s biggest TV event of the year, once again dominated public discussion on Lunar New Year’s Eve, when families across the country watch the show together.

Known as chunwan, the show has been broadcast on state broadcaster CCTV since 1983. This year’s four-and-a-half-hour long program featured musical, dance, opera, martial arts, and comedy performances.

With estimated audiences of more than a billion viewers each year, this year’s gala was better received by the public than in previous years, with netizens noting the relatively more creative segments in contrast to previous years when the shows had greater emphasis on promoting traditional values.

Here are three surprising things that happened at this year’s gala.

Bon soir, Beijing

One of the most discussed topics on social media during the evening’s program was the performance of the hit song “Belle” from the classic French musical “Notre-Dame de Paris.” It was the first time a French musical number has featured in the Spring Festival Gala.

Marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, the song was performed by three foreign singers and three Chinese singers, including renowned opera singers Liao Changyong and Zhang Yingxi.

Xie Tong, a 24-year-old musical fan from Xi’an, capital city of the northwestern Shaanxi province, said she watched this year’s gala just to watch the performance, sung in the original French: “It would have been hard for me to imagine someone singing ‘Belle’ on chunwan just a few years ago.” Continue to read the full article here

-This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.