Night view of Palace Museum (Photo: VCG)
"Palace Museum will extend its opening hours to the evening for the first time for two consecutive nights in celebration of this year's Lantern Festival," museum curator Shan Jixiang said at an event on Saturday.
The museum's official website also announced it would host a "Lantern Festival night tour" cultural event on Feb 19 and 20, and visitors can make the appointment for the tour on Feb 17 and 18 respectively with the online ticket booking system.
After this announcement, tickets for Feb 19 sold out within ten minutes. Quite a few people have pinned their hopes on the second appointment.
Night view of Corner Tower, Palace Museum (Photo: VCG)
But in the middle of the night the ticket booking system broke down — too many people visited the website at the same time.
"I was sitting in front of the computer around 11:45 p.m. to grab tickets, only to find the website melted down. When I managed to open the website, all the tickets sold out," said Du Yue, a freelance photographer who wishes to record the night view of the Palace Museum.
The crash of the website has disappointed many visitors, yet it shows the appeal of the Palace Museum.
Also, "Night tour of Palace Museum" has become one of the hottest topics on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo at present, attaining more than 330 million hits among the online users.
"I am a loyal fan of Chinese costume dramas and curious to see the night scenery of the Palace Museum. Could the night tour be extended more days to meet the public's demand?" Sina Weibo user Xiao Hongshu456 asked on the official account of the Palace Museum.
"Palace Museum once again amazes me. Although I am not the lucky dog to gain the ticket, I will be excited to see many breathtaking photos from professional photographers," added another Weibo user Man Xiaoqing.
It marks the first time the museum will be open to the public for free at night for the past 94 years, and the first time the large-scale ancient buildings in the Forbidden City will be decorated with lights.
The main locations open to the public will be the Meridian Gate exhibition hall, the Gate of Supreme Harmony, the East Wall and the Gate of Divine Might.
Also, the renowned painting A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains will be projected on the roof of the ancients building and decorated with red lanterns, giving visitors the feeling of "walking along the painting".
Beijing embraces this winter's third snowfall on Feb 14, and lots of people choose to see snow scenery at the Palace Museum. (Photo: Zhang Xingjian/chinadaily.com.cn)
People from all walks of life including model workers, couriers, sanitation workers, police, military officers and solider will be invited to take part in the night tour as well.
It is worth noting the official announcement also gives publicity to the museum's newly-opened Corner Tower Restaurant and Corner Tower Cafe, allowing visitors to enjoy some leisure time in the two spots before concluding their night tour.
"On the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year, I was thrilled to attend the Spring Festival exhibition at the Palace Museum. On Valentine's Day, I took leave and enjoyed the magnificent snow scenery with my boyfriend again at the Forbidden City. And tomorrow, I am ready for a night tour there," said Zhang Qian, a Beijing-based business manager.
Zhang expects to visit the Palace Museum three times in February, and she is not alone.
The Palace Museum, or Forbidden City, is more than a 5A scenic spot for numerous visitors. It has become a cultural icon for anyone interested in Chinese history and traditional culture.