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 international organizations may give several days off to celebrate Christmas. Christmas dinners with colleagues are welcome and increasingly becoming a trend. 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 recommended restaurants.
Additionally, there are some great spots in town for you to spend Christmas Eve at with your friends and family. We have shortlisted a few of the top restaurants
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.
Below are general markets where you can buy Christmas trees (real and fake), decoration items (unlimited variety) and other X-Mas related stuff. Also listed are markets which are held this time of the year for tourists and expats, serving as a congregation of local businesses, Christmas products, drinks and food. Christmas is often considered a good time for shopping. Department stores and shopping malls also tend to prolong business hours till midnight, and offer various promotions and discounts. Expect the crowds!Check out our Shanghai Shopping Guide and Best Christmas Markets in Shanghai.
This is one of the most popular and anticipated Christmas markets in Shanghai. If you are in town between Dec 5th to 7th this year, you possibly cannot miss this. This is hosted by Paulaner's branch on Fengyang Road.
This year Kerry Parkside will hold a special Christmas market, with vendors selling delicious eats and drinks, and decoration items and more. What's more? There will be live performances at this venue as well as carol singers walking around. This is on till December 25.
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 (many bars would be having their winter happy hour that cannot be missed as well as serving mulled wine); Wuding Road (武定路) -— another popular bar street with some interesting spots for a meal with drinks and the ambiance, including the famous wine bar Enoterra, an Italian bar and wine place called Sopranos; 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. Friends Bar in Tianzifang (田子坊) is a great place for mulled wine and amazing cocktails with your friends.
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 recently-launched and hugely popular Union Trading Company on Fuxing Road (复兴路) with its long list of great cocktails, the french bar/café La Petanque with a rustic decor and tapas-style menu, the popular craft beer bar Boxing-Cat Brewery (Sinan Mansions), the new lounger Beer bar Liquid Laundry (Huaihai Road) and a couple of wonderful wine lounges such as Burdigala (Wuding Road) Dr. Wine (177 Fumin Road) and UVA (819 Shanxi Road).
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.