The annual Lunar New Year parade promises an unusual treat this year, with the participation of two world-famous Italian performing troupes - the Flag Throwers of Cori, and the Original Masks of the Venice Carnival. The flag throwers demonstrate skills dating back to the Middle Ages. Accompanied by drummers and trumpeters, they swing colourful flags around their bodies and toss them overhead. The Venice masks, embodying both history and art, are a central feature of the annual Venetian carnival. Performers will enact for local spectators one of the world's oldest masked processions. Making their first appearances in the parade this year, the Italian performers join 13 other groups from overseas and 16 local groups in the event, organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to mark the first evening of the Year of the Dog tomorrow. The event is costing $12 million to stage. The 90-minute night parade will feature nine elaborately decorated and illuminated floats, dragon and lion dancers, colourfully costumed performers, clowns, stilt walkers, marching bands and more. The theme of this year's parade is 'Moments of Discovery', to coincide with the Tourism Board's 2006 'Discover Hong Kong Year' campaign. The event starts at 8pm from the Tamar site in Admiralty. The parade will make its way along the streets of Admiralty and Wan Chai, and end outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.