For as long as there has been recorded history, Wuzhen (www.wuzhen.com.cn) has been a synonym for the beautiful scenery on the lands that stretch southward from the banks of the Yangtze River as it flows through the delta region. The town, recognized even in ancient times as the locale most emblematic of the area, has now become a tourism destination for leisure and vacation. Over the last few years, the ancient town of Wuzhen has further enriched its heritage through the addition of a series of cultural events including the Wuzhen Theater Festival and the Drama Incubator, making Wuzhen an ideal tourism destination for anyone who would like to know and experience what was like to live in one of China's small but important towns in the days of yore.
Wuzhen is unique among the towns that have preserved the ancient traditions, in large part due to the strength and depth of those traditions. The town is located next to a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage – the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Water continues to flow through the town's canals, just as they did in ancient times. Throughout history, Wuzhen was a gathering place for China's highly-placed businessmen as well as for Chinese masters across every artistic discipline. As far back as the Tang Dynasty, several of China's classical drama culture forms including Shanghai Opera, Huangmei Opera, Suzhou Pingtan and the local Flower Drum Song have thrived in the small town. Hong Sheng, the opera composer and author of The Palace of Eternal Youth, spent the latter portion of his life in Wuzhen. Drama is considered part and parcel of the life and culture of the town going back countless generations. A 15-year effort in recovering the cultural values that lay hidden among the town's treasures has paid off with Wuzhen having become a comprehensive cultural stage for the area's local crafts and traditions.
As a tourism destination for leisure and vacation, Wuzhen is well equipped with modern facilities, including sightseeing buses, canal tours by boat, wide availability of broadband access and satellite TV, floodlighting for viewing of tourist attractions at night, modern conveniences and conveniently located parking lots for cars and tourist buses located out of view of the traditional landscape, assuring visitors easy access to all attractions. The ancient town offers visitors the opportunity to spend time in homes that are lived in to this day by local residents yet have retained the unique characteristics of the traditional culture along the southern bank of the Yangtze River through the generations while staying at well-equipped multi-star vacation hotels and luxury inns. The ancient town's historical sites, craftwork workshops, classic exhibition halls, religion-inspired architecture, folk customs and traditional places of leisure are a must to see for any visitor to China interested in its history and customs. Wuzhen is also home to over 20 workshops for all manner of traditional crafts, among them studios for wine-making, silk weaving, smelting and blue calico work, each one showcasing their unique local craftwork culture to visitors and acting as a testament to the knowledge and wisdom of the local citizenry. As a result of what the town learned through its protection and development efforts, Wuzhen initiated the widely respected "Wuzhen model", a model that has been adopted by many ancient towns throughout the country. The model has served to allow the town to develop into and thrive as a well-functioning living community combining the ancient with the modern.
With the aim of enriching the town's cultural life, Wuzhen has brought back many traditional folk festivals, including the Lamb Culture Banquet, the Street Banquet with the series of tables stretching for blocks arranged in the shape of a dragon's tail and the Temple Fair showcasing silkworm farming culture, all of which are highly popular among visitors and tourists. In addition, the romantic Valentine's Day, the busy Christmas Festival and the Children's Folk Game Festival showcasing traditional plays and skits put on by children living in the town are a special draw, especially for visitors from abroad. Every July and August, the town holds the Children's Folk Game Festival, a truly special event that can be enjoyed by any family traveling with children.
Wuzhen, a 1,300-year-old ancient Chinese town, is located in the northern part of Zhejiang province, less than 100 kilometers from nearby Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. The ancient town is easily accessible to anyone arriving by air from Europe or the U.S. at Shanghai Hongqiao, Shanghai Pudong or Hangzhou international airports. It is a short trip by car or bus from any of these three airports to Wuzhen. Anyone coming to this ancient town can not only enjoy life in a classical water town, but also experience the town's rich culture and take part in one of its many festivals, and, in doing so, experience many of the wondrous elements of China's extensive and profound traditional culture.