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7 Best Places to Celebrate Spring Festival in China

About the author, Vera Zhao
Vera Zhao is the product manager at Odyssey Tours. She has been in the line of Asia travel for 10+ years and stacks up helpful tips for tours to China, Southeast Asia and South Asia.
Write to odyssey@tangdynastytours.com for any questions or read more tips by Vera Zhao >>

In 2019, the Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) takes places 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!

Spring Festival Chinese New Year


Beijing
Beyond a shadow of doubt, nothing beats the original. Beijing is at its best during Spring Festival: city got decorated up, red lanterns bloom in the city like nothing you've ever seen. One of the highlights that I highly recommend is temple fairs, where display different themes and have cultural products for sale. Moreover, there will be heaps of local snacks tease your taste buds along with fascinating parades of folks in traditional costumes feast your eyes! So do not miss out 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 Qianmen StreetBeijing maintains the top choice when it comes to celebrating Spring Festival.


Hong Kong
Happen to be in Hong Kong during 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 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?

hong kong victoria harborVictoria Harbor witnesses the amazing fireworks display of Spring Festival every year. (Photo: Odyssey guest Gary Ruppert)

Recommended Spring Festival trip


Taiwan
In Taiwan, people celebrate 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 Taiwaners do! After that, I would suggest venture out at 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 Chinese New Year, be prepared for another serials of festive activities: paper lantern releasing 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.
Taiwan Pingxi Lantern FestivalPeople write their wishes on paper lanterns and release them into the sky in Pingxi. (Photo: @Chanszen)

Shanghai
Despite the fact that Shanghai is highly developed, many age-long customs are still well preserved and practiced. Therefore, one can expect activities reflecting both traditional and modern side of people’s daily life especially during Spring Festival. The tranquil Yu Garden will be a hustling stage for folk cultural show, while the City God Temple next to it proven to be the best place with pure Chinese festival feelings. Plus, world-class performance will be on theaters, alongside of orchestras play their best work. Ring in the New Year and have a blast in Shanghai!

shanghai yuyuan gardenYu Garden is a hub for all kinds of things to do over Spring Festival.

Chengdu
Chengdu boasts 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 more of local vibe, annual temple fairs are held in Wuhou Temple and Jinli Street, staging all kinds of cultural activities including lantern display, special food fair, regional folk custom performance, etc.. Don’t forget to try local eats as Chengdu was declared to be a city of gastronomy by UNESCO in 2011. Furthermore, good news has it that the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre stays open during the whole festival. 

chengdu giant panda breeding centreLet the adorable creatures spice up your festival mood!

Sample China tour to experience Chengdu


Harbin
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 though the end of February every year. Temperature here can be as low as -22 degrees, therefore enough warm clothes is indispensable. Besides, the Songhua River turns into a huge playground where people enjoy various winter activities, such as ice fishing, skating and ride 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 the Central Avenue and you will see why this snow-capped city earned the name! 

harbin yabuliHarbin offers superb ski resorts for ice sports lovers.

Lijiang
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 townLijiang is sleepless owing to the vibrant nightlife here.

Celebrate Spring Festival with minority groups


Do you enjoy the picks? If yes, share this article via the Share buttons beneath the title so others can see it too! Any circumstances that you have trouble planning a trip to China during Spring Festival or would like to use Odyssey’s private tour service, simply drop me a line at odyssey@tangdynastytours.com.

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