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Late January

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)

Chinese New Year is one of the best known, the most widely celebrated and certainly the oldest New Year festivals in the world. Chinese communities all over the globe have made it a big event in their respective communities, but there's no better place to witness the start of the new lunar year than in China itself.

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on the first day of the first lunar month. The date changes in the Western calendar each year. The preparations start long before the event and the festivities last for around 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival.

In China the New Year is widely celebrated, and everything closes down, officially, for four days. People jam the transport networks to get home to their families. Preparations begin about a month before the day itself, building up to huge house-cleaning sessions to sweep out bad luck. Doors and windows are freshly painted - the colors for the festival are red (for happiness) and gold (for wealth) - and decorative paper cut outs and paintings are put up. Poetic couplets expressing wishes for happiness and longevity, written on rolls of red paper, are traditionally put on gateposts and doors.

On the night itself, almost everyone in China holds a huge family dinner of seafood and dumplings, as well as the traditional New Year cakes. Then, at midnight, fireworks light up the skies all over the country. On the next day, people traditionally visit relatives, friends and neighbors with new year greetings ("Gong Xi Fa Cai": "Happy and Prosperous New Year"), and married couples give Hong Bao (red packets of money) to children and unmarried adults. There are also high-energy dragon dances, lantern shows, and other entertainments throughout the celebrations.

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Lantern Festival

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Admission is free.

The streets of Shanghai light up at night during this huge festival as revelers walk about holding Chinese lanterns. Legend claims that the lanterns protect citizens from being attacked and hauled away by evil spirits lurking in Shanghai's air space..

 

January

Ringing of the Bell

One hundred eight honored Buddhists ascend the Drum Tower in Longhua Park to strike the temple bell at midnight on New Year's Eve each year. According to ancient Buddhist doctrine, each stroke of the bell represents one kind of earthly happiness.

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on the first day of the first lunar month - the date changes in the Western calendar each year. The Longhua Temple is a great place to head for the event - it has always done its own spectacular thing for local worshippers and tourists alike. The temple's vegetarian dishes are very popular with tourists, but on New Year's Eve "over-year noodles" are the only choice - a dish that represents wealth and success in the coming year.

+86 (0) 10 66 03 11 85

 

Early April

Tomb Sweeping Day

China's Tomb Sweeping Day, every year in April, is a day for worshipping ancestors; people visit the graves of their departed relatives and burn "ghost money" (money for use in the afterworld) in their honor.

Also called Qingming Day, this tradition is observed by millions of Chinese all across the world. It has its roots partly in the half-legendary huge resettlements that were ordered during the Ming Dynasty, when thousands of families were ordered first to Konglong county before being sent to their final destinations.

Thus, to this day, many Chinese believe their ancestors came from that county. The event also appeals to many overseas Chinese who identify their own diaspora with that of the people who suffered under the Ming rulers.

+86 (0) 10 6520 1114

 

Early April

Shanghai International Tea Culture Festival

Hundreds of thousands of tea lovers, experts and tea producers make it to Shanghai for the International Tea Culture Festival. As well as plenty of impressive tea ceremonies, visitors get to taste a good few brands as activities spread around town, attend seminars and visit famous tea spots.

The history of the tea culture festival goes back to when the Revolutionary History Exhibition Hall in Zhabei District opened the Songyuan Teahouse

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Early April

Longhua Temple Fair

Longhua Park is famous for its ancient temple, the Longhua Pagoda, its evening bell-striking ceremony and beautiful peach blossoms. It is especially worth visiting during the Longhua Temple fair, the largest in Shanghai and said to be the day when dragons visit the temple to help grant people's wishes.

Stalls surround the temple and thousands of people go to the booths selling every kind of traditional Chinese food and crafts. The temple is decorated spectacularly, and lit at night to full effect.

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Early-Mid June

Dragon Boat Festival

Every year, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, a number of Chinese cities (as well as overseas Chinese all across the world) commemorate the death of poet Qu Yuan in ancient times by staging a Dragon Boat Festival. Usually celebrations go on before and after, but there's one day of races.

Qu Yuan lived as a courtier in the court of the Chou Dynasty until one day he was thrown into the sea after maltreatment at the hands of a corrupt and evil official. When the local fishermen learnt of the poet's demise, they apparently set to in their boats, trawling the waters to find him. Their efforts were unsuccessful so they threw rice dumplings into the sea, thumping the water with their paddles to prevent the poor poet being eaten by piranhas.

An important part of this timeless celebration is the eating of zongzi - the pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.

+86 (0) 10 66 03 11 85

 

Mid June

Shanghai International Film Festival

The Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) fills various venues around the city, presenting over 900 official films from more than 60 countries. Founded in 1993, it is the only international film festival in China and has Grade-A international status.

The nine-day event is made up of four strands: the Jin Jue Award International Film Competition, the International Film Panorama, the International Film Market and the Jin Jue International Film Forum.

+86 (0) 10 66 03 11 85

 

Mid September

Chinese Moon Festival

Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, China's Moon Festival is celebrated around town and especially in people's homes. Traditionally it marks the end of the harvest season.

The festival is marked by the making and eating of "moon cakes" - round pastries filled with sweet fillings. In Shanghai, the favorite filling is a red bean paste. Houses are decorated with colored animal-shaped paper lanterns and altars are piled with round fruits to symbolize the shape of the moon. The evening is spent moon-gazing in the company of family, before enjoying a feast at midnight.

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Mid Sept-Early Oct

Shanghai Tourist Festival

The annual Shanghai Tourist Festival offers a huge amount of entertainment at venues across the city. Float parades, markets, a folklore tour of Shanghai Lanes, a Chinese Festival at Yu Garden,  and a Music Fireworks Festival in Century Park are part of the festivities.

 

Mid Oct-Mid Nov

Shanghai International Art Festival

Shanghai hosts a month-long arts festival every year with a varied program of more than 150 performances. This includes everything  from symphony orchestras, dance and opera to acrobatics, magic, and drama.

Also on the bill are an international piano competition, a magic festival and contest, an Asian music festiva,l and an arts and crafts fair.

+86 (0) 10 6520 1114