- Celebrated: Dec. 25
- Location: Shanghai
Although Christmas is not a public holiday in China, it has become hugely popular, especially in larger cities such as Shanghai. For most people, Christmas is celebrated without much religious attachment and is spent enjoying the city's Christmas markets and Christmas deals at restaurants and bars.
The Shanghai Christmas Scene
People work on Christmas day here, December 25, unless it falls on a weekend. Some foreign embassies, consulates, and international organizations may give several days off for Christmas. Shanghai expats typically take days off from work, and some companies may grant a day or half a day off to employees.
Malls, bars, department stores and restaurants prolong business hours to seize sales opportunities. Christmas supplies are available in plenty, and each year, the variety of Christmassy things on offer just keeps getting better!
Christmas dinners with colleagues and friends are increasingly becoming an important social do.
Christmas sales: These usually start during the end of November or early December in big department stores, upscale malls, and the expat-oriented supermarkets; complete with Christmas music and decorations.
Visit a Christmas Market!
If you are in Shanghai around Christmas time, one of the most enjoyable things to do is to spend time at a Christmas market. There are several that are held in the city and are bustling with tourists, locals, and expats.
The number of Shanghai Christmas markets held in November and December has increased. Expect a vibrant congregation of local businesses and vendors selling their Christmas products, drinks and loads of food. You can buy Christmas supplies including trees (real and fake), a multitude of decorative items (unlimited variety at great prices), and drink liters of festive booze or hot chocolate while you shop.
Paulaner's Christkindlmarkt (now in its 13th year), Jing'an Christkindlmarkt (slightly smaller than Paulaner), and Jiashan Market (Farmer's market).
For more, check out our Shanghai Shopping Guide.
Souvenirs and Gifts to take back home
Christmas is a good time for shopping. Most malls prolong business hours till midnight, and offer various promotions and Christmas discounts. Shopping hot spots such as Huaihai Road and Nanjing West Road are lit up everywhere with Christmas lights and other decor, lending a very festive atmosphere - perfect for long winter walks.
You can easily find great and inexpensive souvenirs for friends and family. These may include simple silk products such as scarves, porcelain, teas, Chinese calligraphy, wall hangings, wood carvings, weaving and embroidery. Read more on our shopping recommendations.
Christmas Dinners and/ or Buffets
If you are looking for an elegant dinner, check out what international hotels and large Western restaurants have on offer, such as JW Marriott, Kerry Pudong, Hotel Pelham's at Waldorf Astoria, Atrium Cafe at The Hilton, and the Shangri La. See our Shanghai's Best Restaurants list for more guidance.
Get your fill of the Christmas delicacies with the numerous Christmas buffets that are hosted across the city's 4-star and 5-star hotels and upscale restaurants. They serve all kinds of dishes including the traditional turkey, ham, apple pie and eggnog.
We have shortlisted a few of the top restaurants for your consideration:
- Cotton's - In the atmospheric Cotton's mansion you will find a 3 course Christmas meal with 1 dessert and 1 drink or a 3-course meal with 2 drinks; RMB 368 per person; daily at 6pm until Dec 31; No. 132 Anting Road 安亭路132号
- Mr & Mrs Bund - Christmas Eve Dinner will take place Tuesday, December 24 from 5pm-10:30pm. Christmas Day brunch and dinner will also be held. The lunch is respectively at 11:30am-2:30pm and the dinner 5pm-10:30pm; Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Road, near Nanjing Dong Road 中山东一路18号6楼, 近南京东路
- Hakkasan - Festive season dinner set is RMB 888 per person; Christmas brunch set available for RMB 298; on Christmas Eve there will be a live performer and saxophonist; Bund 18, 5/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu 中山市东一路18号5楼外滩
- CAC Christmas Party & Reggae Dance Hall After-Party - This is the annual Christmas party with a Caribbean twist. The dinner will take place on December 14 from 6pm-10pm and will include a large Caribbean buffet; RMB 348 per person and RMB 60 for the after-party; Golden Tulip Shanghai Rainbow Hotel No. 2000 Yan An Road West
- Christmas Hamper - Pamper yourself or a loved one with a luxurious Christmas hamper filled with favorites such as homemade cookies, chocolate Santa, wine and more; RMB 888 per person; 1/F, 1008 Beijing Xi Lu, near Jiangning Lu 北京西路1008号1楼
There are some great and less expensive options as well that include RAW (2/F 98 Yanping Road, near Xinzha Road 延平路98号2楼, 近新闸路), Husk (218 Fengxian Road, near Nanhui Road 奉贤路218号, 近南汇路), Big Bamboo (381 Hongfeng Road, near Biyun Road 红枫路381号， 近碧云路), Bali Bistro (75 Wanhangdu Road, near Beijing Road 万航渡路75号, 近北京西路), The Bull & Claw (466 Xikang Road, near Kangding Road 西康路466号, 近康定路) among others.
Peek Inside a Shanghai Church!
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 and popular churches in Shanghai.
(I) Shanghai Community Church (上海国际礼拜堂) is the largest Christian church in Shanghai.
- Address: 53 Hengshan Road, Xuhui District 徐汇区衡山路53号
- Tel: 021-64376576
(II) St. Ignatius Cathedral (徐家汇天主教堂) is the largest Catholic Church in Shanghai.
- Address: 158 Puxi Road, Xuhui District 徐汇区蒲西路158号
- Tel: 021-64382595
(III) Moore Memorial Church 沐恩堂 is the Christian church facing Renmin (Peoples') Square.
- Address: 316 Middle Xizang Road, Huangpu District 黄浦区西藏中路316号
- Tel: 021-63225069
(IV) Shanghai Grace Baptist Church (怀恩堂)
- Address: 375 North Shaanxi Road 陕西北路375号
- Tel: 021-62539394
(V) Sacred Heart of Jesus Church
- 151 Hongfeng Road 红枫路151号
(VI) Abundant Grace International Christian Fellowship
- Hong En Tang, 455 Hong Feng Rd., Pudong 浦东新区红枫路455号 鸿恩堂
- Makers Market & Christmas Celebration Service @ Abundant Grace Auditorium Dec 9, 2018, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
(VII) St Joseph's Catholic Church
- 36 Sichuan Road 四川南路36号
(VIII) St. Peter's Catholic Church
- 270 Chongqing Road 重庆南路270号
If you are feeling charitable this Christmas season, you could check out how you can support Community Roots China (CRC). It is a social enterprise that offers the One Heart Program each year since 2011 for Chinese children in rural areas and also HIV affected families.
Christmas at Bars
There are several bar streets in Shanghai. During Christmas, almost all the bars embrace the season's festive look and ambiance, transforming into welcoming warm venues.
- Wuding Road (武定路) - This has been fast developing as a hip bar street with many options for a meal with drinks and winter food. Our top recommendations are Barbarian, B&B, Le Cafe Des Stagiares, Malabar, a unique whiskey bar called Lab, OLA, a Portuguese bar and restaurant, Taoker, a beer and seafood joint, Bar Centrale, an Italian mid-range restaurant, Fat Cow, a trendy burger joint and Hunter Gatherer, dishing out healthy fare among others
- Hengshan Road (衡山路), Maoming Road (茂名路); the ever popular and posh Xintiandi (新天地)
- Fumin Road (富民路) / Julu Road (巨鹿路) junction with the Mexican Cantina Agave, Funkadeli, Chicken & Egg, em>Kartel and Maya
- Friends Bar in Tianzifang (田子坊) is a great place for mulled wine and amazing cocktails with the friendliest staff you'll ever meet.
You should also check out some of the award-winning Shanghai bars that would put out their Christmas menus:
- Barbarossa in People's Park with its gorgeous view of the lotus pond and terrace or bar seating
- The hugely popular Union Trading Company on Fuxing Road (复兴路) with its long list of artisan cocktails
- The French bar/café La Petanque with a rustic decor and tapas-style menu
- Popular craft beer bars like Boxing-Cat Brewery (Sinan Mansions) and Liquid Laundry (Huaihai Road)
- Wine lounges such as Dr. Wine (177 Fumin Road) and UVA (819 Shaanxi Road)
If you are looking for a party, then read on about Shanghai's popular nightlife here.
Touring Shanghai at Christmas
If you're planning to be in Shanghai at Christmas, why not take a tour with us. Most of Shanghai's attractions can still be enjoyed in the colder weather alongside the unique Chinese Christmas atmosphere and in tourist low season.
Recommended Tour Ideas
- The Essence of Shanghai - see the best of the city in 3 days
- THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE - our ever-popular first-timers' classic itinerary, taking in Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai in 8 days
- Christmas time sees a lot of tourists wanting to visit Hong Kong. If you are thinking the same, you must look at our guide for a trip to Hong Kong.
All of these tours and many more can be customized to your seasonal requirements, or you can build your own itinerary with our travel experts.