In 2019, the Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) takes place on February 5 and as usual, lasts one week long. Are you looking for Chinese cities that produce the most genuine and festive atmosphere? I picked seven based on both surveys and my own experience. Join the mob and enjoy the festivity!
People are celebrating the Chinese Spring Festival
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing beats the original. Beijing is at its best during Spring Festival: the city got decorated up, and red lanterns bloom in the city like nothing you've ever seen. One of the highlights that I highly recommend is temple fairs, which display different themes and have cultural products for sale. Moreover, there will be heaps of local snacks to tease your taste buds along with fascinating parades of folks in traditional costumes to feast your eyes! So do not miss out on this opportunity to get a real taste of the Chinese New Year. I would suggest the following temple fairs to go: Badachu, Ditan, Longtan, Dongyue, and Hongluo.
Beijing maintains the top choice when it comes to celebrating the Spring Festival.
Happen to be in Hong Kong during the Spring Festival? Congratulations! You will be able to witness lots of memorable activities: the grandeur International Chinese New Year Night Parade which has become a signature event ever since held in 1996, the blazing fireworks display with the daily Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbor on the second day, the exciting horse racing on the third day, etc. Let alone a lively performance of lion dance and restaurant specialty exclusively for the holiday! In addition, undeniable promotions and discounts in malls help spice up the holiday spirit. So, why not?
Victoria Harbor witnesses the amazing fireworks display of the Spring Festival every year. (Photo: Odynovo (formerly Odyssey) guest Gary Ruppert)
In Taiwan, people celebrate the Spring Festival by taking a bath in a hot spring, hoping to get rid of ailments and stay healthy in the brand new year. Do as the Taiwanese do! After that, I would suggest venturing out to night markets in Tainan, Shilin, and Liouhe, each has its own charm and so many snacks to offer - make sure you go there hungry. If you plan to stay in Taiwan till the Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the Chinese New Year, be prepared for another series of festive activities: paper lanterns released into the sky in New Taipei's Pingxi district, themed lantern exhibitions at the Taipei Expo Park and musical performances along Kaohsiung's Love River.
Even though Shanghai is highly developed, many age-long customs are still well preserved and practiced. Therefore, one can expect activities reflecting both the traditional and modern sides of people's daily life, especially during the Spring Festival. The tranquil Yu Garden will be a hustling stage for folk cultural shows, while the City God Temple next to it has proven to be the best place with pure Chinese festival feelings. Plus, world-class performances will be in theatres, alongside orchestras playing their best work. Ring in the New Year and have a blast in Shanghai!
Yu Garden is a hub for all kinds of things to do over the Spring Festival.
Chengdu boasts a rich history of ancient Chinese Bashu culture, thus remaining a good choice for travelers who wish to discover a real Spring Festival. Much like Beijing but with more of a local vibe, annual temple fairs are held in Wuhou Temple and Jinli Street, staging all kinds of cultural activities including lantern displays, special food fairs, regional folk custom performances, etc. Don't forget to try local eats as Chengdu was declared to be a city of gastronomy by UNESCO in 2011. Furthermore, the good news has it that the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre stays open during the whole festival.
Let the adorable creatures spice up your festival mood!
It seems crazy to visit Harbin in its coldest season, yet trust me, this is also the time one can make the most of the Ice City, which hosts the world-famed Harbin Ice and Snow Festival opening from January 5th through the end of February every year. The temperature here can be as low as -22 degrees, therefore enough warm clothes are indispensable. Besides, the Songhua River turns into a huge playground where people enjoy various winter activities, such as ice fishing, skating, and riding in ice junks. Haven't I told you that Harbin is dubbed the "Oriental Moscow" because of the perfect blend of North China culture and European flavor? Go to the Saint-Sophia Church and Central Avenue and you will see why this snow-capped city earned the name!
As one of the last surviving ancient towns in China, Lijiang gets a bit more crowded than usual throughout Spring Festival, when domestic tourism thrives and foreign travelers come to participate in a wide range of cultural and Naxi minority group activities. There is a bonfire party held at the central plaza in the evening. Many local folks dance there and welcome travelers to join. By the river, hundreds of floating lamps are lit and set into the water, carrying people's best wishes for their loved ones. Many bars ring the town's waterways are dressed up New Year theme, which certainly woos one to have a drink.
Lijiang Ancient Town in Yunnan