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Although Christmas is not a public holiday in China, it has become hugely popular, especially in large cities such as Shanghai. For most people, they celebrate Christmas without much religious attachment and use this time to enjoy the city's Christmas markets, Christmas deals at restaurants and bars, and drink lots of mulled wine.
People work on Christmas day here, 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.
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 litres of festive booze or hot chocolate while you shop.
Paulaner's Christkindlmarkt (now in its 11th year), Jing'an Christkindlmarkt (slightly smaller than Paulaner), and Jiashan Market (Farmer's market). More details on Christmas markets are in this article.
Christmas is a good time for shopping. Most malls would prolong business hours till midnight, and offer various promotions and Christmas discounts. Shopping hot spots like 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.
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 spirit 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:
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.
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.
(II) St. Ignatius Cathedral (徐家汇天主教堂) is the largest Catholic Church in Shanghai.
(III) Moore Memorial Church 沐恩堂 is a the Christian church facing Renmin (Peoples') Square.
(IV) Shanghai Grace Baptist Church (怀恩堂)
(V) Sacred Heart of Jesus Church
(VI) Shanghai Community Fellowship
(VII) St Joseph's Catholic Church
(VIII) St. Peter's Catholic Church
If you are feeling charitable this Christmas season, you should 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.
There are several bar streets in Shanghai, and popular ones includeImmerse yourself in the festive atmosphere at bars in Shanghai. During Christmas, almost all the bars embrace the season's festive look and ambience, transforming into welcoming warm venues.
You should also check out some of the award-winning Shanghai bars that would put out their Christmas menus:
If you are looking for a party, then read on about Shanghai's popular nightlife here.
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 itinerary with our travel experts.
China Highlights has designed some cool Christmas e-cards, that you can send to your family or friends for free.