Best Shows & Performances to See in China

The accumulation of 5000 years of Chinese civilization has created rich and colorful historical and cultural tourism resources. As a country with a large number of UNESCO world heritage sites, China owns plenty of cultural and tourism resources which have attracted tourists from all over the world all the year around. The great wall, Terra Cotta Warriors, Potala Palace, Giant pandas…. Besides these sights, some excellent shows are another way to explore the profound Chinese culture and history.

Peking opera commands the largest following in China and is also the best-known form of Chinese opera abroad. Peking opera was first started with Huiban opera in the Qing dynasty. Later on, some innovations were accomplished. Their music was based on the erhuang melodic tradition of Anhui opera and the xipi tradition of Hubei opera. It also incorporated some of the repertoire, tunes, and music accompaniment of Qingqiang opera and folk music. These joint operatic forms developed during twenty years to become a new form of opera with distinctive features, and it came to be called Beijing opera.

When you are watching an opera, what impresses you the most may be the "painted faces". Facial patterns use multi-colored exaggeration and symbolism to suggest a character's personality. Generally speaking, red face makeup refers to a loyal and upright person; black face makeup refers to a faithful and straightforward person; white face makeup refers to an imperious and treacherous person; multi-colored face makeup refers to ghosts and gods.

Beijing OperaBeijing Opera

Chinese culture boasts a profound foundation after thousands of years of inheritance and accumulation, and Chinese Kung Fu is of the prove. For thousands of years, Chinese kung fu has been admired by many countries in the world.

"Kung Fu Legend" in Beijing is a performance that combines various artistic elements such as Chinese martial arts, acrobatics, and dance. The show is different from the traditional kung fu performance. It introduces drama stories into the kung fu performance. The play tells the story of a little boy who was sent to an ancient temple to learn martial arts and Zen. After many tests and trials, he finally became a master. From ignorance and inexperience at that time, through practicing martial arts and Zen, he finally stepped into the realm of great wisdom and courage and achieved a lifetime of brilliance.

While demonstrating an inspiring theme of "suffering and growth", Kung Fu Legend successfully introduced dramatic stories into kung fu performance. In addition to displaying more than 20 varieties of Chinese martial arts, it also combines ballet, modern dance, acrobatics, and other art forms to create a spectacular stage, which is highly recommended by audiences at home and abroad.

So far Face changing show has been world-famous and has been performed on various platforms. It is an important intangible cultural heritage. Only a few masters have grasped this skill throughout the world. They know how to change masks magically in quick succession. As they flourish their arms and twist their heads, their painted masks change again and again. Face-changing is just part of Sichuan opera. At nightfall, you will hear the rhymical clanging of gongs and drums in Sichuan opera; in addition to humorous highlights, there are pleasant performances such as Qingyin(a folk singing art popular in Sichuan mainly uses pi-pa, a local string instrument). In Chengdu, Sichuan opera can be easily enjoyed in hotpot restaurants and teahouses every evening. It consists of a variety of different performances, the highlight would be the face-changing show and hand shadow show. Sitting in a bamboo chair in the teahouse in a traditional Chinese yard and enjoying a performance will be something you can't miss.

Sichuan OperaSichuan Opera

Acrobatics is a 1.5-hour stunning show in shanghai. Throughout the unique performance, you will enjoy the fascinating Chinese history, and arts as well as incredible special effects. In general, the acrobatic performance consists of jujitsu, circus art, ventriloquism, tightrope walking, acrobatics, and lion dance. You will be amazed at the charming flexibility of gymnasts and acrobats, who performed perfectly choreographed movements in elegant music.

Acrobatics in China has a long history and is regarded as a valuable cultural heritage of the Chinese nation. Acrobatics mainly refer to the performances in which actors complete a series of difficult movements based on their physical ability, such as balance, agility, or movement coordination. Today, it is a combination of traditional Chinese acrobatic art and modern technologies such as multimedia, lighting, sound effects, and costumes.

While having such magnificent sight of visual experience, we could learn more about the culture of martial arts and acrobatics. It definitely will bring a wonderful experience to your trip.

The Tang Dynasty Show, also known as "Music & Dance Dinner Show in Xian, is a must on the list of things to do in Xian. The Tang Dynasty Show is a performance that fully displays the essence of music and dance art of the Tang Dynasty, which was the most prosperous dynasty and the glory of the Chinese civilization. The whole play lasts for 70 minutes. It's a visual feast that brings you back to the Tang Dynasty.

Costumed dancers, singers, a live orchestra, temple drums with a dozen percussionists, computerized lighting, and digital projection are extremely well put together. It can be defined as one of the most stunning and magical Broadway-quality production that everyone must experience. Meanwhile, English translations showcasing Chinese history through song and dance are offered.

What's more, it is also a local dinner theater performance. The performance conjuncts with the "dumpling banquet" - a variety of dumplings you can eat at one meal.

Tang Dynasty Show, Xi'anTang Dynasty Show, Xi'an

A definite must-see show directed by Zhangyimou famous director globally. The largest landscape live theater in the world, Impression Liu Sanjie successfully presents the harmony between humans and nature by combining Liu Sanjie's classical folk songs, Guangxi ethnic customs, and other fabulous elements.

The performance lasts 60 minutes in total, with more than 600 performers, who are local fishermen. The impression is an open-air performance at night. The stage is arranged by the riverside of Lijiang. With nature as the background, Li River and the karst mountains of Guilin as the central stage. The show demonstrates an extremely broad view so that you can completely indulge in the beautiful scenery of Yangshuo. The reflection of mountain peaks and water, bamboo forests as well as moonlight, and minority costumes all combined harmoniously.

Chinese shadow play is also known as Chinese shadow puppets. Originating from the Han dynasty, the play became quite popular as early as the song dynasty. In the Ming dynasty, there were 40 to 50 shadow show troupes in the city of Beijing alone. Chinese shadow play combines storytelling, and entertainment and demonstrates the style of harmony and exaggeration. In addition, it presents a unique artistic charm since it has merged traditional forms of paper-cut, mural paintings, stone carving, opera, music, etc. The shadow puppets are brightly painted leather figures. Each puppet's trunk, head, and limbs are separately made but joined together by a thread so that each puppet part can be manipulated by the operator to simulate human movements. The "stage" for the shadow play is usually a white cloth on which the shadows of puppet figures are projected. Operators are all under the stage, manipulating rods that support separate parts of each puppet figure. A traditional puppet figure has six or seven parts supported by two or three rods. Sometimes one can skillfully manipulate more than three puppets at the same time.

Chinese Shadow PlayChinese Shadow Play

Themed in impression snow mountain and impression ancient city, impression Lijiang performed on a huge circular open-air stage at the foot of Mt. Yulong. It is the highest-performance site in the world with an altitude of 3100 meters. The stone benches arranged in steps can accommodate thousands of people to watch at the same time.

Impression snow mountain describes the dialogue between people and mountains and expresses the intimate relationship between people and nature. Meanwhile, throughout a dialogue between human beings and their ancestors, the impression ancient city shows a sacred kingdom has always been in people's hearts since ancient times.

With the background of blue sky, white clouds, and snow mountains, hundreds of ethnic minorities perform the unique and characteristic lifestyle and traditions handed down from generation to generation. It is an unforgettable musical feast, which perfectly presents the current situation of local culture and beautiful legends.

Start Your China Adventure

I believe that after watching the performances I've recommended; you will be amazed at the unique and abundant culture of China. You will be obsessed with this ancient nation. In addition to magnificent mountains and rivers, and countless places of interest, China boasts rich and colorful folk customs, unique operas as well as world-renowned cuisine. As one of the ancient civilizations in the world, China is extremely rich in human tourism resources, I believe there are more things to be explored.

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