The 2011 Xian International Horticultural Exposition
Last updated by david at 2014/5/20
The Expo at a glance...
Theme: The enduring prosperity of the dualism of nature and mankind as reflected in the purposeful harmony between the urban and the rural, also within the city
Where: The all-new Ziwei Urban Gardensite, aka Flowing Gardens, at the Guangyuntan Scenic Area in the Chan-Ba Ecological District of the city of Xi'an
When: 28 April to 22 October, 2011
Slogan: Green Leads the Trend!
The 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition – to be referred to in the following, except where it might lead to ambiguity, as the Expo – will be held at the all-new exposition site, Flowing Gardens, located within the Guangyuntan*(1) Scenic Area in the Chan-ba Ecological District of northeastern Xi'an City. The 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition marks the third time that this important event – recognized by professional horticulturalists as the "Horticultural Olympic" – will be held in China, the two previous instances being the 2006 Shenyang International Horticultural Exposition, held in the city of Shanyang, capital of Liaoning Province, and the 1999 Kunming International Horticultural Exposition, held in the city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.
Note that the theme of the 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition, as expressed in the Chinese original, involves two representations of the word "Chang'an", since it is both the ancient name for the present-day city of Xi'an and also means, as indicated in the above translation, "enduring prosperity".
The site of the Expo is the all-new Flowing Gardens landscape and architectural grounds that are built (one is tempted to use the term "sculpted") on the shores of – and in places extends out into – an 83-hectare lake, Lake Guangyun (see the footnote below), that is partly fed by the runoff waters of the surrounding rolling-hill landscape and partly fed by the nearby Ba and Chan Rivers. Viewing the main waterside structure of Flowing Gardens, the Theme Pavilion, from a bird's eye perspective, it is almost unavoidable not to associate it with the Sydney Opera House, though the sleek, angular lines and the myriad of reflective glass surfaces of the low-slung Theme Pavilion have little in common per se with the gentle, sailboat-like curves of the Sydney Opera House, yet both structures make an unabashedly bold statement.*(2)
Flowing Gardens is a truly unique, generally low-profile set of strategically-placed, multi-armed but unidirectional, snaking building-and-landscape structures combining earth, wind and water as well as buildings and plants. Flowing Gardens is generally very horizontally-oriented – almost flattened and stretched, in fact – except for the contrastingly vertically-oriented, classical Chinese pavilion, or tower, the 13-storey Chang'an Tower (note the significance of the name of this tower!). The sleek, aerodynamic design of the low-slung buildings deliberately facilitates the circulation of air throughout Flowing Gardens.
Moreover, the lengthwise snaking shape of Flowing Gardens – including its many lengthwise pathways – suggests a river, while the many smaller, interconnecting, curved crosswise pathways suggest sea waves (if not fish scales), both of which – the "river" and the "sea" – conjure up a marine image. The lengthwise, snaking buildings and pathways could also symbolize many freshwater streams that converge, then empty into the sea.
The bearing structure of the buildings of Flowing Gardens is the same type of welded-and-bolted tubing design that characterizes the Bird's Nest in Beijing. Flowing Gardens was designed by the London-based architectural company, Plasma Studio Architects, in collaboration with the landscape-architectural company, Groundlab, also based in London. The building project spans an area of some 420 hectares, about two-fifths of which is water. The overall physical layout of Flowing Gardens is based on the concept of "Two Circles, Two Axes, and Five Nodes".
In the following, the component parts of the gardens' overall physical layout and the gardens' subsidiary, or themed, layout as well as the expo's emblem and mascot will be presented.
Two Circles – refers to the primary and the secondary circles, the former of which contains the majority of the exhibition halls and observation platforms with their tastefully designed and decorated interconnecting corridors, while the latter houses the auxiliary facilities such as the Expo Village and the administrative facilities.
Two Axes – refers, not surprisingly, to the two directional axes of the overall layout of the gardens: the north-south oriented axis, which is the main axis; and the secondary axis, the east-west oriented axis.
Five Nodes – refers to the five parks that make up the expo: Chang'an Park, Creativity Park, Five-Continent Park, Poly-Tech Park and Experience Park.
Spanning some or all of these "Two Circles, Two Axes, and Five Nodes" are the following themed subgroupings:
The Four Main Architectural Structures (aka Landmarks):
Guangyun (Main) Entrance
The Five Major Horticultural Scenic Sites:
Chang'an Flower Valley
Colorful Plants From Qinling Mountains
Flowers Along the Silk Road
Flower Rainbow Over the Ba River.
The Three Architectural Theme Villages (aka Special Service Zones):
Romance by the Ba River
Southeast Asian Street
We recommend that you check out the expo's own website which has detailed descriptions of the various component parts of Flowing Gardens, replete with numerous helpful stylized drawings that give a true flavor of Flowing Gardens' component parts.
The emblem of the expo, the pomegranate blossom, is highly appropriate since it embodies a series of "concentric-ring" petal shapes of increasing complexity (the "rings" are polygonal, with each successive polygonal shape possessing an increasing number of sides), each of which shapes corresponds to an important Chinese principle that is directly relevant to the expo in one way or another.
The innermost polygonal shape of the pomegranate blossom is the triangle, which resembles the Chinese character that translates to the word "people" in English. And people, or mankind – together with nature – are the two bearing pillars of the expo's central theme.
Surrounding the pomegranate flower's innermost, or triangular, polygonal shape is a four-sided polygonal shape – a quadrangle – that symbolizes the ancient city walls of Xi'an.
The next polygonal shape in the series of "concentric rings" is the pentagon, symbolizing the five principles of fengshui that represent balance and harmony in all human endeavor.
The final, or outer polygonal shape of the stylized, pomegranate-flower emblem is the hexagon – the characteristic shape of the snowflake – the snowflake being one of many forms that water takes, water in turn being the basis of all life on planet earth, and being one of the five "elements" that make up Flowering Gardens: earth, wind and water, as well as buildings and plants.
The expo's mascot is formed from the same pomegranate theme with the aforementioned polygonal symbolism. It is a very friendly, trusting, stylized human-like figure whose oversized head is a pomegranate that ends in a shock of "hair" – a flower, albeit, a flower that looks more like a daisy than the pomegranate blossom. On the chest of the figure is a stylized pomegranate blossom consisting of the aformentioned "concentric-ring" polygons of increasing complexity, and in alternatingly red and white colors.
The mascot is chiefly in red, with a green-and-yellow "daisy" (shock of "hair") growing out of its crown and with big, black-and-white, wide-set eyes whose pupils are somehow suggestive of the yin and the yang (the gentle, unassuming smile and the wide-set eyes are the key elements that convey a sense of trust).
As mascots go, the 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition mascot is more hit than miss (well-conceived and well-executed mascots are rarer than their unsuccessful variants!) – in fact, the 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition mascot looks a bit Walt Disney like (think of an ant, or perhaps the famous Jiminy Cricket Walt Disney figure from the 1958 Walt Disney Productions Christmas Special, where Jiminy Cricket, the host, dressed in 'top hat and tails' (i.e., a tuxedo), famously bids the audience farewell with the words: "From all of us to all of you").
Tour Route Information
There are five access points to Flowing Gardens (see our specially annotated map below): three along the "northern" perimeter and two along the "southern" perimeter (the rectangular Flowing Gardens is situated on a northwest-southeast axis, so the "northern" perimeter is actually the northeastern perimeter while the "southern" perimeter is actually the southwestern perimeter), comprising, in all, the main entrance (Guangyun Entrance) and four secondary entrances. Of these five entrances, only three are open to the public at large; one (the northwestern entrance) is a special entrance for tour groups only, while the other is a service entrance for official expo business only.
There are two "ring roads" – an outer and an inner "ring road" – belonging to Flowing Gardens. There are other, smaller sections of these two "ring roads" that defy the concept of a ring, just as there is a network of local service roads not intended for the public. The inner "ring road" is the primary road, or pathway (it is also intended for walking) that connects the vast majority of the expo's scenic sites. It measures 7 meters wide. The outer "ring road" measures 5 meters wide. For ordinary, or non group-tour visitors, the three relevant entrances are the Guangyun Entrance, the West Entrance and the Southeast Entrance.
ChinaTravel has followed, yet departed to some extent from, the suggested set of tour routes for individuals that the Expo itself has proposed. These routes are described immediately below and can best be appreciated in conjunction with our specially annotated map, which is based on one of the official Expo maps. Some of the official Expo maps are not particularly useful, unfortunately. In the following, we will make use of the official Expo maps together with our annotated map in order to make sense of the three suggested routes for you.
Of course, these three routes are, as indicated, only suggestions; you are free to devise your own route, walking some and catching the open, easy-on, easy-off electric shuttle bus as you wish. Note that for the three tour routes for individuals described below, the itinerary includes a number, in parentheses, beside each exposition site's name, corresponding to the exposition site layout on our specially annotated map immediately below (and note that if you right-click the map and choose "Open in another tab" or some such, you can maintain simultaneous access to the map and to this page).
The 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition
Click to see large map of The 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition
1) The Walking Tour Route
As the name suggests, this route is for visitors who wish to stroll through the Expo on foot only. One can pace oneself as one pleases, and there are strategically placed facilities (the theme villages: Southeast Asian Street, European Avenue and Romance by the Ba River) throughout the gardens that cater to the visitor's needs for food & drink.
Recommended Itinerary: Guangyun Entrance (1) - Chang'an Flower Valley (2) - Creativity Park (4) - Southeast Asian Street (5) - Chang’an Tower (6) - Greenhouse (7) - Enterprise Gardens (8)*- World Garden (9) - International Gardens (10) - European Avenue (11) - China Garden (12) – Exit (same as Guangyun Entrance).
* See the asterisk on our specially annotated map, as there are multiple exposition sites at this location. To see the official, non-annotated Expo map of this route, which the Expo's administrators refer to as the Hiking Tour Route (or any such link outside this site), right-click the link and open the new page in a separate tab, that way you can compare the official maps (there are several of them - you can page through them at the bottom of the Expo page in question) with our specially annotated map in order to get a better understanding of the route and its highlights. Note that the official Expo map of this particular route, which follows the "inner road", except for the final section leading back to the entrance (which section traces both the "inner" and the "outer" road routes), is quite useful. Should you despair of walking the entire suggested route, you might want to be prepared to hop onto one of the electric shuttle buses/ carts, whose map can be found here).
2) The Combined Walking Tour/Shuttle Cart Route
This route is designed for those who, for reasons of frailty or time limitations, wish to combine a densely packed walking section of the route with a ride on the electric shuttle cart through the more sparsely distributed section of the route, both legs of the route in question belonging to the "inner road" (except for the final section as described under Route 1 above – see the asterisked note there). The first, densely packed leg of the route, beginning at the main entrance and proceeding southward and around the "inner road" to the large island situated below the Theme Pavilion on our specially annotated map, is intended to be made on foot, while the second leg is intended to be made via the electric shuttle cart (the official Expo map for this route, which is officially designated as the Main Scenic Spots Tour Route, is not very helpful – see the asterisked note below).
Recommended Itinerary: Guangyun Entrance (1) - Chang'an Flower Valley (2) - Theme Pavilion (3) - Creativity Park (4) - Southeast Asian Street (5) - Chang’an Tower (6) - Greenhouse (7) - Organization Garden (8)* - World Garden (9) - International Garden (10) - European Avenue (11) - China Garden (12) – Exit (same as Guangyun Entrance).
* See the asterisk on our specially annotated map, as there are multiple exposition sites at this location. Note that our unofficial, annotated map is in fact based on the official Expo map for this route, a map whose pathway is not very helpful – in fact, it is outright confusing! We suggest that you forget about the pathway itself and just think in terms of the itinerary, or the numbered exposition sites themselves (refer, please, to our specially annotated map), then compare our annotated map with the the official Expo electric shuttle cart map (remember to right-click this link and open the new page in a separate tab, that way you can compare the official Expo electric shuttle cart map, which is bizarrely and mistakenly designated the Planned Route for Electric Bicycles (!) - these are electric buses, not bicycles! (they look somewhat like this) - with our specially annotated map to gain a better understanding of the potential for switching between walking and riding).
3) The VIP Route
The VIP route covers the main attractions of the Expo along the "inner road" as well as a leisurely tour of the "southern" perimeter road. The first part of the route follows the same general path of the other two routes, i.e., it commences at the main entrance, then proceeds southward along the "inner road" to the large island situated below the Theme Pavilion. From here, it departs from the usual "inner road" only route, proceeding to the "southern" perimeter road, which it then follows eastward to the Southeast Entrance, then proceeds northward in the direction of the main entrance, linking up with what is essentially both the inner and outer ring road near the International Garden before arriving back at the entrance. Generally speaking, tourists who choose this route will see the various exposition sites by a special electric automobile (not the electric shuttle cart), but will proceed through certain closely-linked areas, where appropriate, on foot.
Recommended Itinerary: Guangyun Entrance (1) - Chang'an Flower Valley (2) –Creativity Park (4) - Southeast Asian Street (5) – Chang’an Tower (6) – Greenhouse (7) – Water Fronts Dock (8)* – "Southern" Perimeter Road – International Garden (10) - European Avenue (11) – China Garden (12) – Exit (same as Guangyun Entrance).
* See the asterisk on our specially annotated map, as there are multiple exposition sites at this location. To see the official, non-annotated Expo map of this route – which is indeed a quite useful map – right-click the link below and open the new page in a separate tab, that way you can compare the official Expo map for this route with our specially annotated map to gain a better understanding both of The VIP Route's form and its "contents" (exposition sites).
Pre-Expo Period 01/10/2010~
Terms of Acceptance
Single Day Admission
RMB / Yuan 130
RMB / Yuan
1. Applicable to all visitors;
2.Applicable on ALL days including Peak Days;
3.One ticket per visitor, single day admission.
Peak Days include the Opening Extended Weekend (Apr.28~30), the May Day holiday (May. 1~3), the Dragon Boat Festival (a 3-day holiday), the Mid-Autumn Day (a 3-day holiday), National Day Holiday (Oct. 1~7), and the Closing Extended Weekend (Oct 20~22) – in all, 22 Peak Days.
Single Day Admission
RMB / Yuan 85
RMB / Yuan
1. Applicable to all visitors;
2. Applicable on all days EXCEPT Peak Days;
3.One ticket per visitor, single day admission.
Standard Days refers to all non-Peak Days (see Peak Day dates above). Xi’an 2011 Expo runs for, in all, 156 days.
The 2011 Xi'an Expo's World Famous Canine Pedigree Pavilion
As you will have noticed, this horticultural exposition is about much more than mere horticulture; it is about what one might call "applied horticulture", in the sense that it presents horticulture in the context of the urban setting, integrating elements of nature with asphalt, concrete, steel and glass, rather than relegating nature to "added-on" oases, which was the old-school solution to creating a "green" urban environment. Here, the rural and the urban, the natural and the manmade are interwoven. As something new, the 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition has recognized the role of "man's best friend", the dog, in the modern-day urban setting.
The Expo's World Famous Dog Breeds Pavilion (which we will call the Canine Pedigree Pavilion here), promotes canine culture in all its many facets. The multifunctional Canine Pedigree Pavilion consists of a canine exhibition hall, a canine movie theatre where numerous films and TV programs devoted to "man's best friend" will be shown, a canine culture hall, a canine art hall, a canine theme park and various other activities related to "man's best friend".
During the course of the Expo, the Canine Pedigree Pavilion's exhibition hall will be showing off over 100 elite and rare dog breeds from around the world, including the Tibetan Mastiff, the Egyptian Pharaoh Hound, the German Shepherd, the Chow Chow, the Starling Dog, the Chinese Crested Dog, the Tibetan Spaniel, the Dalmatian, various Poodle species, the Teddy Bear Dog, various Schnauzer species, the Labrador Retriever and the Shetland Sheepdog. Even if you are not a natural-born canine lover, you can't help but admire the beauty/ handsomeness and uniqueness of these many diverse dog types.
In addition, a number of canine competitions (best exemplar for each breed, most well-trained performing dog, most photogenic dog, etc.) will be held at the Canine Pedigree Pavilion, and such events never fail to please, so if you are a dog lover – or even only a distant admirer of "man's best friend" – the 2011 Xi'an Expo's World Famous Canine Pedigree Pavilion is an unmissable place to be during the Expo.
*(1) Guangyuntan: Guangyun ≈ "Compendium of Rhymes"... a Song (CE 960-1279) Dynasty literary reference, tan ≈ "Lake"... literally "Deep Pond".
*(2) Indeed, the Southeast Asian Street themed village, with its myriad of roofs that each represent a single shingle (all of the buildings of Southeast Asian Street are contiguous, and erected on different terrain levels, with entire roofs that overlap in the way that the individual shingles of a single roof overlap) is so suggestive of the seemingly contiguous "sailboat sails" of the Sydney Opera House as to resemble a deliberate, albeit stylized, nod to the latter.
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