Activities

Festivals and Events

Beijing has exciting events and festivals occurring throughout the year:

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, occurs in January or February, with the date varying each year depending on the lunar calendar. It is the most important festival in China and period of celebration extends for 15 days, with the first week being a public holiday. Train and bus stations and airports are very crowded at this time with people traveling back to their home towns to visit family. Chinese families decorate their homes in red for good luck, give children “lucky money” in small envelopes, and prepare feasts of special foods which symbolize wealth and longevity.

(Dancing dragon at Chinese New Year Parade) Dancing dragon at Chinese New Year Parade

Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival falls on the last of the fifteen days of the Chinese New Year festival. At night all over the city there are parades of children carrying lanterns, which are symbolic of good luck. Good places to watch the parades are the Workers’ Cultural Palace, the Old Summer Palace and in Zizhu Park.

Ice Lantern Art Festival

From January 15 to February 28 there is the Ice Lantern Art Festival in Longqing Gorge, 52 miles from Beijing. This winter festival of ice sculptures has become a popular excursion for tourists visiting Beijing in the winter.

Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Festival

The Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Festival in April is on the 104th day after the winter solstice. The festival celebrates the arrival of spring and is a time of remembrance for departed ancestors.

International Kite Festival

The International Kite Festival takes place in Beijing in April and features kite flying competitions, colorful kite displays and dragon dances.

Dragon Boat Festival

June is the time of the famous Dragon Boat Festival with exciting dragon boat races on rivers and at the coast. During the festival people throw small leaf-wrapped packets of rice into the water to commemorate Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet, who drowned.

Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival takes place on the full moon of the eighth lunar month, usually in September. It is a Chinese version of Thanksgiving for the summer harvest and features moon cakes, dragon dances and lanterns.

National Day

October 1 is National Day and is a public holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Central People’s Government in 1949. Tiananmen Square is decorated with flowers and there are concerts and firework displays organized throughout the city.

Beijing Music Festival

The Beijing Music Festival is a three week long highlight in October and November with a variety of concerts and operas.

Winter Solstice Festival

The Winter Solstice Festival in December marks the shortest day of the year. People celebrate the beginning of the lengthening days with family reunions and eat special glutinous rice balls.