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Although Christmas is not a public holiday in China, it has become more and more popular, especially in large cities such as Shanghai. For most people, they celebrate Christmas without much religious attachment, but rather as a get-together for couples or friends. The idea of Christmas markets, in particular, has been gaining popularity with each passing year.
People work during Christmas, unless it falls on weekends. Some foreign embassies, consulates and international organizations may give several days off to celebrate Christmas. Expats usually take time off from work, and some companies may give a day or half a day off to employees.
Many shops, department stores and restaurants prolong business hours to seize the business opportunities. If you are looking for Christmas supplies, you won't be disappointed by what you can find. Be prepared for large crowds of people in public places.
Christmas dinners with colleagues are welcome and increasingly becoming a trend.
Christmas sales: These usually begin around the end of November or early December in big department stores, upscale malls, and the better supermarkets. You'll know they are on when you hear Christmas music and see the decorations.
The number of Christmas markets in November and December have increased in Shanghai. You can buy Christmas trees (real and fake), a multitude of decorative items (unlimited variety at great prices), and drink litres of festive booze or hot chocolate while you shop. These markets make for great spots to feel the holiday spirit, meet people, get to buy some unique things that you won't find at any other time.
These markets are targeted at tourists, locals, and expats and are a congregation of local businesses and vendors, 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 they offer various promotions and discounts. Don't be surprised to see over the top decor, especially in malls on Huaihai Road and Nanjing West Road.
This is one of the most popular and anticipated Christmas markets in Shanghai. If you are in town between Dec 1st to 4th, 2016, you possibly cannot miss this. This is hosted by Paulaner at a new venue.
Each year, Kerry Parkside holds a special Christmas market called Santaville where vendors sell 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.
This space has been keeping very busy of late, with cooking competitions (hello Masterchef?), Zumba classes, baking markets, and more. Thanksgiving and Christmas will see related pop ups in this space with designers and vendors who will display their goods. You could find the perfect Dutch pie here. Very festive and highly recommended.
This is another German style Christmas market that has sprung up. Since it's new we totally recommend checking it out. It's a week long affair featuring great food, drinks, music — live jazz — and gift stalls. We expect there will be about 30 vendors. 2pm — 9pm daily.
Jiashan Market is a bi-monthly farmer's market that transforms into a special Christmas market from mid-November to December each year, open every first and third Saturday of the month. Best for Christmas eats (cakes, puddings, gingerbread, treacles and more). Also, look out for wreath-making stalls here plus live performances, and some great homemade mulled wine stalls.
With more than 400 shops, it is the largest flower market in Shanghai. Christmas trees, festive flowers and Christmas ornaments are available in plenty, be ready to drive a hard bargain though.
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.
Light things to take back with you for local-color souvenirs include some simple silk products such as scarves, porcelain, teas, Chinese calligraphy, wall hangings, wood carvings, weaving and embroidery. These items could be great choices for souvenirs and gifts if they are inexpensive. We suggest that tourists don't attempt to buy quality or expensive products in Shanghai since they are often taken advantage of.
Get your fill of the Christmas spirit with the numerous Christmas buffets around the city. 4-star and 5-star hotels and upscale restaurants often offer the best in special Christmas Eve dinners and buffets. They serve all kinds of dishes such as turkey, ham, apple pie and even eggnog. Reservations are essential.
International hotel chains and large Western restaurants such as JW Marriott, Kerry Pudong, Hotel Pelham's at Waldorf Astoria, Atrium Cafe at The Hilton, and the Shangri La are places to go for the best meals. See our Shanghai restaurant guide page for recommended restaurants.
We have shortlisted a few of the top restaurants, where you are almost certain to get some great deals!
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 Carrefour. However, we recommend checking out the Christmas markets we have covered below.
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). 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.
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
Apart from just bar streets, some bars that would be very Christmassy and deserve a visit are
Also, check out our Shanghai nightlife guide.
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.
All of these tours and many more can be customized to your seasonal requirements, or you can build your own itnerary with our expert help.
China Highlights has designed some exquisite Christmas e-cards, which you can send to your family or friends for free.