For the eleventh year running, the sleepy Yunnan city of Mojiang (墨江) will host its annual International Twins Festival. As with past events, the 2016 version is expected to draw thousands of identical twins, triplets and quadruplets and even larger numbers of curious tourists, bolstered by engaged couples hoping for some magic.
The draw of Mojiang for many is its high twin birthrate — festival organizers say couples living in and around the town are 25 percent more likely to have twins than the world average. In fact, there is even a local legend surrounding the nearby village of Hexi (河西村), where 100 families have given birth to ten sets of twins.
Locals believe this is a result of the magic of Hexi's twin wells, and local folklore recounts a tale of supernatural fornication, the intervention of a jealous and shifty wizard, and twins transforming into two magic wells. This fable has led to the recent advent of mass marriages conducted at the wells, and this year, 20 couples will take part in a group wedding culminating with the quaffing of the fertility granting water.
The festival is also a showcase for local Hani minority culture. All of the traditional festivities celebrated throughout the course of a year by the Hani are packed together and reimagined during the two-day twins festival. Included is the infamous mud festival, the communal Hani Long Table Feast and local drinking games punctuated with homemade wine.
The entire event revolves around a televised talent competition featuring an international cast of identical siblings competing in front of a huge live audience. Previous acts have included acrobats, violin virtuosos, rappers, cat-suited dancers and child ballerinas.
• 12:00-2:00pm Hotel and festival check-in for twins, members of the press and couples
• 7:30-9:00pm Live concert by Yunnan province's premier rock group Shanren Band (山人乐队)
• 9:00-11:00pm Fun-run, bonfire and rave
• 8:30am-12:00pm Twins talent competition
• 9:30-11:00am Mojiang cultural heritage protection meeting
• 11:00am-12:00pm Hani minority performances
• 12:30-3:00pm Rub Your Face Black event
• 6:00-7:30pm Hani Long Table Feast
• 8:30-10:30pm Twins gala
• 9:00-10:30am Sightseeing cruise
• 10:30am-12:00pm Hani mass wedding ceremony
• 10:30am-2:00pm Group photos, twins blind dating, games
• 1:00-4:00pm Mojiang traditional lantern riddles
• 2:00-4:30pm Mud Festival
• 3:00-5:00pm International football match
• 8:30-10:30pm Twins talent competition
In addition, ongoing activities in Mojiang include nightly outdoor screenings of 3D films, a dedicated Hani food street and an Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade fair.
Transportation to the Mojiang International Twins Festival is easiest by bus. A one-way ticket to Mojiang cost 120 yuan and buses leave from the South Bus Station every half hour between 8am and 6pm. Event organizers recommend advance booking at either the Mojiang Twins Hotel (phone: 4333888) or the Zijin Hotel (phone: 4232940). Rooms cost roughly 500 yuan per night due to high occupancy rates caused by both the festival and Labor Day celebrations.