The program is a variety show, often featuring music, dance, comedy, and drama performances. It has become a ritual for many Chinese families, including overseas Chinese, to watch the show on Chinese New Year's Eve. Many Chunwan performers have emerged as household names in China solely as a result of their recurring appearances on the program.
In the early 1980s, CCTV director Huang Yihe proposed the idea of hosting a televised party to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and the first CCTV New Year's Gala aired in 1983. Operating on a very low budget, Huang was given a studio of 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft), which could accommodate only 60 staff members and 200 guests. With no money for recording and editing, the show was improvised and broadcast live. It was hosted by Liu Xiaoqing, Ma Ji, Jiang Kun, and Wang Jingyu, and the studio had four telephones accepting live requests from callers nationwide.
The popular singer Li Guyi ended the night with nine performances, and the co-host Jiang Kun performed three xiangsheng comedies. Huang and his colleagues took considerable political risk broadcasting the live show, as pop singers such as Li Guyi were at the time under attack by hardliners as "spiritual pollution", and one of her most popular songs, Hometown Love, was still officially banned.With the permission from Wu Lengxi, the Minister of Radio and Television who was in the audience, Li Guyi performed the song for the first time on national TV.
After the first New Year Gala proved a huge hit with viewers nationwide, Wu was tasked with directing the second edition. At the time, China and Britain were under intense negotiation over the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the status of Hong Kong. Huang came up with the idea of inviting the amateur Hong Kong singer Cheung Ming-man to perform at his show. It was then unprecedented for a Hong Kong entertainer to perform on Chinese TV and his request met significant resistance. Huang persistently lobbied government officials and eventually gained their approval. Cheung's performance of the patriotic song "My Chinese Heart" at the 1984 gala made him a household name in China.
As the program is watched by more Chinese than any other, not just from China itself but also from overseas Chinese and viewers abroad via CCTV's international channels, a performance in the New Year's Gala could propel a relatively unknown name into household talk and national celebrity (and possible international hit status) overnight.
According to Wikipedia