China Guide

Guide to China Festivals Chinese New Year, Spring Festival Lantern Festival

Guide to China Festivals

Most western countries abide by the conventional calendar while China uses the lunar calendar meaning figuring out the dates for Chinese festivals can be quite a challenge. This said it is well worth figuring out as the Chinese celebrations are decorative, enchanting and a lot of fun.

The festivals of China are a great way for tourists to get immersed in the culture and experience the joy in the celebrations. The first in the lunar calendar is the Chinese New Year which starts on the first day of the lunar year. The date usually lands in late January or in early February and lasts for two weeks. Those who are around during this period can expect magnificent fireworks, cultural dances and fairs while the locals decorate their homes, purchase new outfits, unite with family and pray to Tso Kwan. Tso Kwan is believed to enter Heaven on this day and reports on their behaviour. All in all, the China New Year Festival is an abundance of colour and one of the more elaborate festivals of the year and certainly one of the most important.

Straight after New Year is the Lantern Festival which follows on the 15th day, the last day of Chinese New Year. You know it’s the Lantern Festival when the evening streets are full of light and by day there are millions of brightly coloured and cleverly designed lanterns lining the streets. Expect there to be many garden parties to attend, fireworks to be amazed by and cultural dances to enjoy.

Next is the Dragon Boat Festival which is held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and is used to celebrate the great Mr Yuan. Mr Yuan was not only a patriot but a poet too; he used his talent with words to express his views of his sovereign and its people. To the people’s detriment, he drowned himself by clasping a large stone to his chest and throwing himself into the Miluo River. When the people found out, they ran to the river, searching for him in their boats. Now on the date of his death the Dragon Boat Festival celebrations are made in remembrance of the rescue efforts of the people.

The last major Chinese Festival is the Moon Festival also known as the Mid Autumn Festival. Held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon is said to be at its fullest. So while you are inspecting the roundness and magnificence of the under acknowledged moon, you can tempt your taste buds with the flavours of mooncake. Many take to wide open spaces to watch the moon while others climb mountains in an effort to get a ‘closer’ look.

Apart from these main festivals, there are smaller festivals considered less important and others that are primarily celebrated by different regions. The Qingao International Beer Festival celebrated in the middle of August is the largest in Asia and a prime example of a regional festival. Others include the Water Splashing Festival, the Qintong Boat Festival and the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.

Visiting during any one of these festivals will enhance your journey as the Chinese celebrations are elaborate and colourful.