A long parade was held in the Belgian city of Antwerp on Saturday as part of the 2019 Spring Festival organised by the local Chinese community and Antwerp to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

Antwerp, known as the “Diamond Capital” of the world, bristled with incandescent lights as the 2019 Spring Festival parade took the city by storm, with thousands of curious onlookers and Chinese residents duly taking part in the festivities.

The parade that set off on Saturday is intended to promote Chinese culture while also allowing more people to learn of the great portal city of Antwerp.

It is also an opportunity to highlight the growing trading links between Antwerp and Shanghai after massive investments in infrastructure were poured into, among other places, the Port of Zeebrugge this year.

Earlier in May, the first China-Belgium freight train from China’s Tangshan port had arrived in Antwerp, acting as a new direct railway link between China and Belgium subsumed under the Belt and Road Initiative.

People at Spring Festival parade, Belgium
Photo: People take part in the 2019 Spring Festival parade in downtown Antwerp – Belgium.

The Mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, who attended the parade, reminded people in his introductory speech of the important historical ties between Antwerp and China, and spoke positively of the glowing future that lies ahead.

“We have been twin cities now for 35 years, and another important aspect of our special partnership is the fact that Antwerp is the world capital of diamonds and China is now the world’s 2nd largest market for diamonds. So China and Antwerp only stand to benefit,” he said.

“The Chinese community in our city has made a concerted choice to embrace and cherish the opportunities that this city offers. A new year celebration like this one, with music and dance, is an outstanding opportunity to get to know each other even better, value and respect each other even more.”

After the parade ended, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Cao Zhongming and deputy mayor of Antwerp, Ludo Van Campenhout visited an exhibition dedicated to the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up drive and watched the traditional Chinese song and dance performances held every year.

In the streets of Antwerp, performance such as dragon and lion dances and Tai Chi drew in huge crowds of people, as children dressed up in Tang costumes and took photos with their families and friends.

The Chinese New Year falls on Feb. 5 this year and is Year of the Pig.