Although Christmas is not a public holiday in China, it has become more and more popular, especially in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai. For most people, they celebrate Christmas without much religious attachment, but rather as a get-together for couples or friends.
People still work during Christmas, unless it falls on weekends. Some foreign embassies, consulates and western companies will have several days off to celebrate Christmas. Many shops, department stores and restaurants prolong business hours to seize the business opportunities. Be prepared for large crowds of people in public places.
Many 4- or 5-star international hotel chains and large Western restaurants such as Kerry Pudong, Hotel Pelham's at Waldorf Astoria, Atrium Cafe at The Hilton, and Shangri La offer Christmas Eve dinner or buffets, with all kinds of Christmas food like turkey, ham, steak, cakes and puddings, along with wine. It is necessary to make reservations in advance. You can also check out our Shanghai restaurant guide page for recommendation of restaurants.
Additionally, there are some new spots in town for you to spend Christmas Eve at with your friends and family, such as Mr Harry. This is a new British restaurant that is doing two-course (RMB 198) and three-course (RMB 248) dinners, with a welcome cocktail and after-dinner tea or coffee.
If you are looking to have a Thanksgiving Dinner before Christmas, with a fabulous view of the Bund and not spend a bomb, then New Heights is the right place for you. They are offering a four-course classic thanksgiving dinner on November 28, at RMB 268 person, exclusive of taxes.
If you look to shop for Christmas food and snacks, it is convenient to find these in large department stores and international chain supermarkets like Wal-Mart and Carrefour. They all have special sections for Christmas food, and many offer imported ones.
Only a few days ahead of New Year’s Day (January 1), Christmas is often considered a good time for shopping. Department stores and shopping malls usually prolong business hours till midnight, and offer various promotions and discounts. As you rub shoulders through crowds of people, do keep an eye on your bag and valuable belongings.
It is easy to liven up your place with Christmas trees and ornaments, which are available in the following markets. Christmas ornaments are available in most large supermarkets. Check out our Shanghai Shopping Guide and Best Christmas Markets in Shanghai.
Jiashan Market is a farmer's market that holds a special Christmas market from mid-November to December, open every first and third Saturday of the month. Best for Christmas eats (cakes, puddings, ginerbread, treacles and more). Also, look out for wreath-making stalls here.
With more than 400 shops, it is the largest flower market in Shanghai. Christmas trees, festive flowers and Christmas ornaments are available.
The market offers Christmas trees and festive flowers before Christmas. At usual times there are various kinds of plants, flowers, pets and birds for sale.
The true meaning of Christmas is best represented at churches. There are Christmas Eve gatherings, choir performances, and Christmas Day masses. Below is a list of famous churches in Shanghai.
It is the largest Christian church in Shanghai.
It is the largest Catholic Church in Shanghai.
The Christian church faces Renmin Square.
If you are feeling charitable this Christmas season, you might want to check out how you can support Community Roots China (CRC), a social enterprise that offers the One Heart Program each year, since 2011, for Chinese children in rural areas and also HIV affected families.
Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere at bars in Shanghai. During Christmas, many bars take on the Christmas look and become a sea of happiness.
There are several bar streets in Shanghai, and popular ones include Yongkang Road (永康路) — the most popular go-to bar street for locals and expats (Handle Bar on this road has started their winter happy hour that cannot be missed!); Wuding Road (武定路) -— an upcoming bar street with some interesting bars including the famous wine bar Enoterra, a second Le Cafe Des Stagiares, Malabar, a unique whiskey bar called Lab, and a pirate-themed rhum bar called Bounty Rhumerie among others; Hengshan Road (衡山路), Maoming Road (茂名路); the ever popular and posh Xintiandi (新天地); and the Fumin Road (富民路) / Julu Road (巨鹿路) junction with the Mexican Cantina Agave, Kartel and Maya, among many other bars.
Apart from just bar streets, some bars that would be very Christmassy and deserve a visit are Barbarossa in People's Park with its gorgeous view of the lotus pond and terrace or bar seating, the craft cocktail bar Senator Saloon on Wuyuan Road with its prohibition-era decor and great cocktails, the new french bar/café La Petanque with a rustic decor and tapas-style menu, the popular craft beer bar Boxing-Cat Brewery (Sinan Mansions), and a couple of wonderful wine lounges such as Dr. Wine (177 Fumin Lu) and UVA (819 Shanxi Bei Lu).
Also, check out our Shanghai nightlife guide.
China Highlights has designed some exquisite Christmas e-cards, which you can send to your family or friends for free.