A special ice skating show, once an annual event held before Spring Festival to entertain the emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was staged at the Summer Palace on January 19, chinanews.com reported.
The ice skaters wore an array of colored uniforms to represent different divisions of the imperial army, known as the eight banners. The activity is called bingxi (playing on ice). It used to be a royal activity during the Qing Dynasty, but now visitors have the opportunity to experience the tradition. The team was founded by the China Ethnic Sports Association, and its performers are skating aficionados from all walks of life in Beijing.
Bingxi has a long history in China. It first appeared in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and was at its peak in the Qing Dynasty. It was seen as both an entertaining sport and a tool for military practice. In the Qing Dynasty, bingxi events were held every winter in royal gardens like the Summer Palace, and they were most frequently held from the start of the winter solstice to the sanjiu period or the third nine-day period on the Chinese calendar, the 19th-27th day of the month on the Gregorian calendar. Beijing is usually at its coldest during this time, which makes the ice perfect for skating.
The ice skating event was also put on in Beihai Park for five days following the Summer Palace performance.
On January 21, the third Public Ice and Snow Beijing Open Tournament was also launched at the Summer Palace to promote ice and snow sports among the Chinese and prepare for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Beijing and Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province.
The Summer Palace, Winter Palace and Beihai Park, will host various events about bingxi. For example, an exhibition on China's ice and snow sports industry and the history of the sport's development in China will be put on at the Winter Palace and Beihai Park. Famous exhibits will include the torch used during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea and a five-meter-long painted scroll from the Qing Dynasty themed bingxi.
The frozen Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace is a natural skating rink in the winter and covers about 700,000 square meters. It is divided into two areas: an ice entertainment area and a skating area. In the entertainment area, there are 10 ice-related entertainment activities, including ice cars and bicycles. There is also an ice slide which is six meters high and 42 meters long.
The skating rink is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and will run until the beginning of February once the weather allows.