Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

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Thinking of traveling to China anytime soon? Whether for business or pleasure, this culturally rich country of over 1.4 billion people has a lot of amazing attractions on offer. Not in the least of which are the various spectacular festivals the country hosts throughout the year. Each festival is steeped in historically rich traditions and draws large crowds from locals and tourists alike. 

There are many large national festivals, as well as plenty of smaller regional festivals held in China every year. But this shortlist will cover the biggest and most popular ones that are celebrated across most of China. Anyone who’s planning a trip to this fascinating country should check if any of these great festivals will be running during their time there. Don’t waste the opportunity to see them in all their colorful, extravagant wonder. 

Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

Things to Keep in Mind When Traveling to China 

The laws, ethos, and customs in China vary (sometimes greatly) from those in the world’s Western countries. When traveling there, always respect and adhere to the rules laid out by both the country and its people. Also, make sure to keep personal safety in mind and make the necessary preparations before leaving. China blocks most of the messaging apps and social media sites that Westerners use. 

Most people who visit or live in China for a short while (as well as many residents) use VPNs to maintain access to loved ones and news from across the Great Firewall. But what is a VPN, and what does it do, exactly? Virtual Private Networks are run by companies that encrypt connections and run them through their own servers. This counteracts any surveillance attempts (from the Chinese government, for instance) and keeps a user’s IP address anonymous. Check for more https://nordvpn.com/what-is-a-vpn/ .

1. Chinese New Year 

This is by far the most historically rich, important and celebrated festival in China, and also one of the longest ones. The Chinese New Year (also known as Chinese Spring) consists of various parties, family celebrations, and a whole lot of fireworks spanning across two weeks. During that time, expect to see the color red everywhere, as it signifies happiness and prosperity for the coming year. 

When: Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the lunar calendar, so the exact date differs every year. However, that date always falls somewhere between January 21st and February 20th.
Chinese New Year! From Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

2. The Mid-Autumn Festival 

Somewhat akin to Thanksgiving in the USA, Chinese citizens also come together to celebrate the fall harvest. Traditionally, this day is also spent with other family members, and there’s plenty of food to go around. One of the main types of food associated with this day, in particular, are mooncakes. 

These delicious treats are enjoyed with others while gazing at the moon, owing to a legend about two lovers in which one becomes the moon. Lanterns, once again, also feature heavily. 

When: The mid-autumn festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which usually means sometime between late September and early October. 
Mooncakes at mid-autumn festival. From Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

3. Yuan Xiao (The Lantern Festival) 

While this day technically forms part of the Chinese New Year, it warrants a special mention. The lantern festival is probably the most famous part of this holiday in countries outside of China. Lanterns of different shapes, designs, and sizes fill the sky on this day and are also one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Another crowd favorite that can be witnessed on this day is the lion dance, where men dance together in elaborate lion costumes. 

When: Yuan Xiao is always held on the 15th day after the Spring Festival, i.e., on the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. 
Lantern Festival. From Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

4. Duanwu (Dragon Boat Festival) 

Popularly, the origin of this public holiday is ascribed to the death of the poet Qu Yuan who drowned in 273 BC. The dragon boat races feature heavily on this day (hence the name), and they’re said to represent those who tried to save him. These colorful boats can usually sit 40+ people along with a drummer who keeps pace. 

When: Duanwu takes place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month – usually sometime around May or June. 
Dragon boat festival. From Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

5. The National Day of China 

This day revolves around the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and patriotism. The “day” generally spans a week (known as the Golden Week) and commonly involves leisure activities and traveling. This holiday is very important to the Chinese government and its staunch supporters. 

When: Unlike the other festivals, the National Day always falls on October 1st of every year.
traveling on the National Day of China. From Visiting China? Here Are 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Experience

Chinese nationals celebrate a wide variety of festivals and events, but what they all have in common is a deep sense of cultural history. Be on the lookout for any of these and other festivals when planning a trip to China, as they’re not to be missed!

 

 

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