Fish-shaped lanterns are seen at the Chinese Lantern Festival in Tirana, capital of Albania, on Feb. 1, 2019. Albania joined the celebration of the Chinese New Year, with a ceremony marking the opening of "Happy Chinese New Year-The Chinese Lantern Festival" event in the capital Tirana on Friday evening. (Xinhua/Liu Lihang)
TIRANA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Albania joined the celebration of the Chinese New Year, with a ceremony marking the opening of "Happy Chinese New Year-The Chinese Lantern Festival" event in the capital Tirana on Friday evening.
The ceremony started with a traditional Chinese New Year song sung by Albanian children studying Chinese.
Welcoming the participants, Chinese Ambassador to Albania Zhou Ding said: "The lanterns lit tonight not only decorate the (Skanderbeg) square but also symbolize people's hope for a better life in the new year."
He highlighted that in the year 2019, China and Albania will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. The festival is the first of a series of activities to celebrate the anniversary.
Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana, gave a special new year wish to Chinese citizens living in Tirana. He appreciated the decoration of Tirana's Skanderbeg square for making it comparable to other big cities that celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Veliaj said that in 2018 around 20,000 Chinese tourists visited Albania, and Albania has the potential to increase this number ten times more in 2019.
The mayor also mentioned that a new project for the construction of an urban bus station in Tirana will start soon and will be a project co-financed by the Albanian and Chinese governments.
The lantern festival will last from Feb. 1 to 14.