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December 17, 2009

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'Tis the season to shop and enjoy

SHOPPING is one of the inevitable pastime activities for city dwellers in a metropolis like Shanghai. These days, major shopping malls have launched various promotions and events for the upcoming holiday season.

In Xujiahui's Grand Gateway Mall, a glittering Swarovski Christmas tree has been set up in the center's atrium. Standing at 16 meters, the giant gold tree features more than 500,000 cut crystals with an estimated value of over 1 million yuan (US$146,400).

It was made in Austria and flown into Shanghai especially for the Christmas celebration.

The tree will be lit up three times a day, at 12:30pm, 3:30pm and 7:30pm, until January 3. There will also be special lighting effects projected on the tree and performance of Christmas melodies.

On December 24 and 25, there will be live musical performances outdoor, while a Santa Claus will walk around the mall to give Christmas candies to customers.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Grand Gateway has also launched various promotions and prepared souvenir gifts for those who purchase a certain amount.

The Christmas trees at Zhabei District's Daning Life Hub and Pudong's Jinqiao Life Hub are less glamorous but more meaningful.

Any customer who spends more than 200 yuan in the two shopping complexes will get a "wish cube," on which they are encouraged to write their New Year's wishes. These cubes will be placed on the Christmas trees.

For each cube received, Jinqiao Life Hub will donate 10 yuan to Green Life, a non-profit organization, to plant trees in sandstorm-hit areas in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

This Saturday and Sunday and on December 26 and 27, sand painting studios will be set up in both shopping malls, where professional artists will demonstrate the art of sand painting and teach customers how to create their own works.

On New Year's Eve, the CGV Cinema in Daning Life Hub will stage four blockbusters non-stop. Meanwhile, winning contestants from local talent show "My Show" will give performances at Jinqiao Life Hub's open-air square.

The City Center Shopping Mall in Hongqiao will stage a large-scale dancing parade on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day respectively. Dancers from home and abroad will perform samba, flamenco and French cancan while magicians will play small tricks and a Santa Claus will give out gifts around the venue.

The holiday season at Xintiandi is time for major shopping, celebrations, performances, a children's choir and the famous New Year's Eve countdown party.

"United in Joy" is the theme of holiday celebrations, bringing together locals and expats.

The Elfun family of cartoon characters will entertain children and present them with gifts.

Performances include a choir of angels, performing from December 22 to 26. The "Voice of the Angel" show includes "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night" and other favorites.

There's a big lucky draw. Everyone gets an entry for each purchase worth 200 yuan (US$29.40) at Shanghai Xintiandi and Corporate Avenue before December 27.

The grand prize, worth 50,000 yuan, is a Club Med Sapporo (Japan) ski resort package for two, including airfare.

Everyone who spends 600 yuan gets a ticket to the New Year's Eve countdown party.

Many Chinese Christmas celebrants also want to know what a real Western Christmas is like.

Through January 3, Shanghai Times Square and 10 European countries' consulates general in Shanghai present "2009 European Christmas Fantasy."

The 10 nations are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal. Each will bring Christmas trees trimmed in distinctive styles, creating a warm and dreamy festival garden.

They also will present European Christmas culture, traditions and celebrations, including special food and wines, songs and products.

This one-month European Christmas celebration period will feature exhibitions of Italian candles, Danish designer jewels and Bulgarian rose products.

Additionally, the United Nations Children's Fund and Shanghai Roots and Shoots office, an non-governmental environmental organization, will organize a charity auction of Christmas gifts. All proceeds will go to needy Chinese children and environmental protection programs.

The mall is elaborately decorated for the season. A huge fiber-optic Christmas tree is suspended in the second-floor lobby - when the lights go out, it appears as if millions of stars are twinkling in the sky.

Further, visitors can walk down a corridor and experience the 10 Christmas trees and traditions, lights, candles, toys, stars, flags and gifts.

Last season, the fairy tale "Il Tango" by artist Gigi Rigamonti was presented, with 26 mannequins posed as if they were dancing the tango.

"This year is another breakthrough," says Cathy Hau, deputy general manager of Shanghai Times Square. "We unfold a fantastic Christmas garden combined with 10 European countries' Christmas traditions and theme activities.

"We are establishing a unique festival experience full of happiness, excitement and longing," Hau says. "It is a good chance to understand the rich cultural significance of the Western festival."

A Christmas card and gift festival is ongoing at Super Brand Mall in Pudong. Season, the leading card brand from Taiwan, has created a giant Christmas card in the shape of a Christmas tree standing 1.8 meters high and 2.05 meters wide.

This year, Season has designed more than 50 styles of pop-up cards, said to be the new trends for Christmas cards this year. The seasonal fun patterns include the carousel, Santa Claus with reindeer and white Christmas tree.

Customers who spend more than 188 yuan at Super Brand Mall's retail outlets or restaurants will receive a special postcard issued by Season and the shopping center.

The postcards will be collected and mailed to Lapland, Santa's hometown in Finland, where they will be postmarked and sent back to you and your loved ones.

Grand Gateway Plaza

Address: 1 Hongqiao Rd

Tel: 6407-0115

Daning Life Hub

Address: 1868 Gonghexin Rd

Tel: 5677-1888

Jinqiao Life Hub

Address: 3611 Zhangyang Rd, Pudong

Tel: 2023-3000

City Center Shopping Mall

Address: 100 Zunyi Rd

Tel: 6237-1118

Super Brand Mall

Address: 168 Lujiazui Rd W., Pudong

Tel: 6887-7888


Address: No. 6, Lane 1321, Taicang Rd

Tel: 6311-2288

Shanghai Times Square

Address: 99 Huaihai Rd M.

Tel: 6391-0691


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