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Beijing Chinese New Year 2016 Activities

The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival or Chunjie, is the biggest holiday of the year in Beijing. It is a prime time to visit and experience the local culture. The former capital of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties (1271–1911) has hundreds of years of traditions and ceremonies associated with making an auspicious year.

Beijingers have a Chinese New Year's Eve meal and customs and perform temple ceremonies, and now they also celebrate at the Great Wall, at bars, and at special modern entertainment festivals. Here is what Beijingers do for the festival, travel information, and places where you can celebrate Chinese New Year too if you decide to visit. Traditionally, it is the one time a year when everyone goes home to see their family.

Chinese New Year Eve at Home (February 7, 2016)

Chinese new year reunion dinnerChinese new year reunion dinner

Most Beijing residents will try to be home on Chinese New Year's Eve. They especially want to make the traditional New Year's Eve family dinner. If you have Chinese friends (or family) you might be lucky enough to be invited to a reunion dinner.

Decorations and Traditions

On that day, people clean the house and don their finest outfits in the spirit of the New Year. People put up red decorations and even red cloths. The red decorations symbolize wishes for good fortune, prosperity, and well being in the coming year. Red clothes not only signify power, happiness, and vitality, it also is said to scare away the ghosts.

People often paste red couplets that are slogans or poems and pictures of door gods (to guard their doors from evil spirits), and they hang red lanterns in their houses. In North China, it is also customary to paste paper cuts in the shapes of animals and plants on windows. Each kind of animal or plant signifies a special wish.

On the evening of New Year's Eve, families tune in to watch the Spring Festival Gala on CCTV. With over 700 million viewers yearly, it boasts the largest audience of any TV show in the world. The best musicians, dancers, and acrobats perform on stage.


After the dinner feast, people go out to play with fireworks and watch the fireworks display over the capital that is unmatched by any western celebration. Not only the government, but millions of residents join in as well by exploding many, many millions of firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers. It's amazing to watch, so make sure you get up high to watch. The noise is thought to scare away evil spirits, which explains why the fireworks in China are preferred to be loud rather than beautiful. You'll probably experience no other fireworks display like it on earth!

After the fireworks, it is traditional in Beijing and other northern cities to eat dumplings, called jiaozi, to signify prosperity.

Chinese New Year Day (February 8, 2016) and Afterwards


As the week goes on, Chinese people visit relatives and friends, starting with the closest and moving on to more distant relatives and friends. It is customary to bring gifts in the form of food, sweets, alcohol, or hong bao (red envelopes with money).

Meanwhile, both young and old continue to set off their fireworks and light rockets. These will continue to explode over the buildings for the 15 days of the Spring Festival (so be careful if you happen to be walking around on the street!). People also go out to the temple fairs. They are places to go to taste the local flavor in the way of food, art, music, games, and people.

Spring Festival Temple Fairs

Many people go to a local temple's temple fair during the Spring Festival. Temple fairs refer to gatherings near temples, where activities such as ritual praying, entertainment and shopping take place.

The History of Beijing Temple Fairs

Temple fair at temple of the earth, BeijingSouvenirs, Beijing temple fair

Temple fairs were originally related to religious activities of these temples, organized at the festivals of temples on certain fixed dates, along with some commercial activities. Gradually temple fairs have mainly become shopping markets and entertainment events for common people, and religious activities have become less important.

Temple fairs in Beijing have a long history, and the origin can be traced back to the Liao Dynasty (907 – 1125). The fairs are held at various ancient temples during festivals, so they are called "temple fairs." Here are four temple fairs you could go to.

Distinctive Features of Beijing Temple Fairs

Characterized by folk culture activities such as folk skills, collections and flower shows, the temple fairs reproduce the traditional customs of Beijing. Many Beijingers worship a local deity or their ancestors and also enjoy the entertainment, including many kinds of Chinese folk art (music, dance, theater, acrobatics, art, crafts, etc.).

For foreigners, visiting a temple fair is definitely a cultural experience. You may enjoy the reenactment of the ceremony of worship to Earth and Heaven. Folk performances like dragon dances and lion dances, the demonstration of traditional arts and crafts, and fun games are all part and parcel of temple fairs. You can also taste numerous Chinese New Year foods such as snacks, gourmet court dishes and delicacies.

Changdian Temple Fair

Changdian Temple Fair

Located just south of Tian’anmen Square, Changdian Temple Fair is one of the eminent fairs in the city. It's got the essential mix of food, vendors, and performances to give you the authentic fair experience. Here you'll find all kinds of stands selling art, calligraphy, tea, and other goods, while food vendors push carts through the crowds selling numerous local favorites.

  • Go here for: buying art, tea, ornaments, food.
  • Admission Fee: 10 CNY
  • Open: February 8 – 12, 9 am – 4 pm
  • Address: Liulichang Jie, Xuanwu District, 宣武区琉璃厂街
  • Getting there: Take subway line 2 to Hepingmen Station.

Ditan ('Earth Temple') Temple Fair

Temple of the EarthTemple of the Earth at Chinese New Year

The Ditan Temple Fair is one of the most popular and long-standing fairs in Beijing. About one million people visit it each year during the Spring Festival. There are reenactments of worship ceremonies of the Qing Dynasty (1636 – 1911) to the god of earth. Besides the ceremonies, there are a wide range of folk performances and activities such as puppet shows, traditional art exhibitions, dragon and lion dances, and acrobatic shows...

Reenactment of the Qing-Style Sacred Ceremony

The scared ceremony is a unique performance at the fair. It aims to replicate the proceedings carried out in the Qing Dynasty to pray for peace and prosperity of the nation.

At 10 a.m. daily, the audience can participate in performances on the first to fifth days of this year of the Monkey (February 8–12). Two visitors will be randomly chosen on a daily basis to take up the role of the emperor presiding over officials performing the sacred rituals.

Local Snacks

It is said that of all the temple fairs in Beijing, the temple fair at the Temple of Earth has the best snacks. Every year numerous vendors will sell more than a hundred types of Chinese snacks, especially Beijing local snacks. Some of China’s most-honored brands can be found there.

Folk Culture Presentations

There will be groups of both local and regional artists at the fair, putting on carefully rehearsed performances.

Traditional Handcrafts

Traditional wood carvings, incense sachets, silk embroidery works, and other handcraft articles can be found in the Chinese handcrafts section. There will be live handcraft during the fair. The audience can observe the meticulous procedure of creating an elegant art piece.

  • Address: Ditan (Temple of the Earth) Park, East Avenue, Anding Gate, Dongcheng District

Dongyue Temple Fair

Dongyue Temple Fair had started as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206 – 1368). The culture of "Fu" has been the essence of this fair. Many activities are centered on the "Fu" culture. Visitors can pray for good fortune at the altar, walk on the "Fu" road, or hang a "Fu" card to invite "Fu" for the coming year. Colorful folk performances, artwork displays, and snacks are also available.

  • Go here for: The exhibition of "Fu (Good Fortune)" culture.
  • Address: Dongyue Temple, 141 Chaowai Avenue, Chaoyang District

Five Wealth Gods Temple Fair

At Wuxiancaishen Temple Fair, five brothers are deified as gods of wealth for their success hunting and prosperity.

  • Go here for: Ancestor worship activities and local Beijing snacks.
  • Address: Southwest of Liuli Bridge, outside Guang'anmen, Xicheng District

Baiyun Temple Fair

Baiyun Temple Fair has an enduring popularity with locals who come here to throw coins at a stone monkey and a bell to invoke a blessing.

  • Go here for: folk customs, local snacks, folk handicrafts, and a painting exhibition

Hongluo Temple Fair


Want to experience a more subdued, authentic temple experience? Escape the crowds in the city center and take a bus out to Hongluo Temple in Huairou district. Take part in prayer meetings and connect with Buddhist culture, or enjoy the dance troupes and traditional snacks in the scenic temple courtyard.

  • Go here for: Serenity and authenticity.
  • Admission: 30 CNY
  • Open: February 8–13, 8 am – 5 pm
  • Address: 2 Hongluodong Road, Huairou District, Beijing, 怀柔区红螺东路2号
  • Getting there: Take bus 936 from Dongzhimen Bus station, then take a short taxi ride to the temple.

Dragon Spring Temple Fair of Fenghuang Mountain

Dragon Spring Temple Fair at Fenghuang Mountain has a series of activities including blessings for fortune and health, the Dragon Spring Temple meetings, vegetarian food, and Ping'an noodles. The entertainment activities of the temple fair are also combined with the folk customs of Fenghuang Mountain, including flower shows with a local flavor.

Old Summer Palace Temple Fair


Old Summer Palace Temple Fair has a long history. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, especially during the flourishing reign of Emperor Qianlong (1735–96), apart from granting banquets and rewards to the dukes and ministers by the emperor, various kinds of celebratory activities would also be held in the palace, such as light operas, wrestling, equestrianism, acrobatics and fire performances.

With the theme of "experiencing royal life" and on the basis of traditional temple fairs, it is a distinctive temple fair in Beijing. Displaying the unique culture of the royal family and Manchu people, there are decorations of palace lanterns, dragon columns and dragon flags.

Lotus Pond Temple Fair

Lotus Pond Temple Fair officially launches activities from the second day of the first month of the lunar calendar. On the early morning of that day, the majority of the people who go to Mammon Temple to pray are on bikes, except for the tycoons and high officials. They wear silk cotton-padded gowns, with mandarin jackets or sleeveless jackets on the outside and small felt hats on their heads.

The pilgrims start from the Gate of Pervasive Peace inside the city to the south. They travel in the direction of the wind (because a north-westerly wind mostly blows in winter in Beijing), but they have to head against the wind once they have passed the Gate of Pervasive Peace.

At around one mile away from Mammon Temple, booths selling incense, red candles and joss papers are ubiquitous on the roadside. The first thing to do after stepping into the temple is to worship Mammon. With incense smoke and lit candles all around, a melodious bell also peals out in the temple.

Other Major Festival Events

Beijing people do more than celebrate at temple fairs, there are also athletic competitions and winter fairs.

Longtan Fair

The Longtan fair is one of the most popular of its kind in Beijing. It is mainly a sporting event with crowd participation. It doesn't take place in or around a temple. It is held in a park. 

There are athletic competitions and demonstrations to both watch and take part in. Martial arts champions demonstrate their skills, and crowd members are encouraged to take part in various competitions such as table tennis, diabolo (Chinese Yoyo) spinning, arm-wrestling, chess, and rock-climbing. Snacks abound.

  • Go here for: Spectacle of athletic feats, 300-person parade
  • Admission: 10 CNY
  • Open: February 7 – 14, 8 am – 5 pm
  • Address: Longtan Park, 8 Longtan Road, Dongcheng District, 东城区龙潭路8号龙潭湖公园北门内(近体育馆路)
  • Getting there: Take subway Line 5 to Tiantandongmen Station.
The Old Summer Palace YuanmingyuanYuanmingyuan

The Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan)

Dance routines, ice football, operas, and other events will recreate the feel of the late Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). In the 1800s, the old Summer Palace was a particularly busy Spring Festival venue.

  • Go here for: Qing Dynasty imperial performances, ice activities
  • Admission: 10 CNY
  • Open: February 8 – 14, 8:30 am – 5 pm (TBC)
  • Address: 28 Qinghua Xilu, Haidian District, 圆明园, 海淀区清华西, 28号
  • Getting there: Take subway Line 4 to Yuanmingyuan Station.

Chaoyang International Carnival

This fair puts an international spin on things with flavors from around the world. Go to see international bands, dance troupes, customs, cuisine, and more. This festival is particularly popular with the Western crowd, as there is sure to be a reminder of home.

  • Go here for: International performances and food
  • Admission fee: 10 CNY
  • Open: February 8 - 13 (the park is open between 6am - 9pm)
  • Address: 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District 朝阳公园, 朝阳区农展馆南1号
  • Getting there: Take subway line 10 to Tuanjiehu station, then go east. The South Gate will be on the left.

Longqing Gorge Ice and Snow Festival

Ice SculpturesLongqing Gorge Ice and Snow Festival ice sculptures

The Longqing Gorge Ice and Snow Festival is about 50 miles outside central Beijing. It is usually open from the middle of January until the end of February. There are ice sculptures like those in Harbin.

It’s a great day/overnight trip, especially if you can’t make it out to Harbin Ice and Snow World.

Celebrate at the Local Bars

Houhai Lake Rooftops

For the true Chunjie experience, visit Houhai Lake, in the center of the city. While other nightlife areas have been built up and modernized, Houhai has kept its traditional charm and beauty. Stop into one of the plethora of bars along the lake and celebrate in local style.

The Central Business District

For a truly spectacular view of the fireworks that will be lighting up the Beijing sky on the eve of Chinese New Year (7th February) visit Atmosphere Bar on the 80th floor of the China World Summit Wing which looks out over most of the iconic Beijing buildings (i.e. the CCTV headquarters). Reservations are recommended for this night.



The most famous bar district is packed full of parties and deals for New Years Eve. This writer recommends visiting The Local, located just off Sanlitun South Street. Janes and Hooch as well as Great Leap Brewing are also popular bars in the neighborhood, the first one serving up cocktails, the second one specializing in craft beer.

The Great Wall

Why not celebrate atop China's own world wonder? The Brickyard, at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, offers the total package. Book one of their luxury rooms for the night, and leave the rest to them. This is also likely to be one of the quieter options for Chinese New Year.

You can hike the wall during the day and then warm up with a traditional hotpot dinner, which is said to bring good luck. They also have a dumpling-making workshop preceding a massive fireworks show (on top of the great wall, of course) which you'll get to eat after.

Chinese New Year Travel Tips

  • Traveling within China can get really hectic during this time, as most Chinese people travel to visit relatives and friends in addition to foreign tourists.
  • Make sure to book tickets in advance — planes, trains, dinner, events, everything.
  • If you can avoid traveling and avoid the stress of trying to get a ticket (which can also prove to be quite the hassle), do it.
  • If you do travel during peak times, flying is much less stressful than taking the train.
  • Many restaurants are closed or have limited holiday hours, so be sure to call ahead to make sure you will be accommodated. Often Western restaurants and Western-owned bars are more likely to be open (for example in the Sanlitun area).
  • Be aware that the fireworks last all week. While they are exciting, they become less so when they are exploding outside your window around 7 a.m. It's easy to prepare accordingly (pack earplugs, sleeping pills, etc), but can be really frustrating if it's not expected. They can also be dangerous on the streets, especially in the hutongs where sight is limited.
  • Chunjie is a time for celebration! If you are planning on visiting people, it’s not a bad idea to bring them gifts, or better yet, a hongbao.
The Great Wall at MutianyuYou may get the Great Wall to yourself at Chinese New Year.

Have fun, and Xin Nian kuaile! (‘Happy New Year!’)

Thinking of Visiting for Chinese New Year?

We can tailor your trip to your requirements, all you have to do is let us know when you're coming, and what you want to do. This way, we can schedule in some of these Chinese New Year activities.

Alternatively, see the full list of tours through China we have here.