Spending the 2015 Chinese New Year Eve in Beijing (18th February 2015)!

Happy new year of the goatThe Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival or Chun Jie, is a good time to visit and experience the local culture. Beijing, the Capital city of the People’s Republic of China, has hundreds of years of traditions and ceremonies such as the Chinese New Year’s Eve meal and customs, temple ceremonies… You will find in this article some activities and tips to do during the festival for you to celebrate the Chinese New Year!

In 2015, we celebrate the year of the Sheep / Goat / Ram. It comes 8th in the Chinese zodiac. Dont’ expect a babyboom in 2015 as there is a popular Chinese saying “Only one out of ten people born in a year of the Goat finds happiness”: people born in a year of the Goat are destined for failed marriages, unhappy families, and bad luck. Many Chinese couples take steps to avoid having children in a year of the Goat.

Hutong door chinese new year

  • The traditional New Year’s Eve family dinner

You may be lucky enough to be invited by one of your Chinese friend to spend the Chinese New Year Eve… Be aware of the traditions: On that day, people clean their house, they hang red decorations all over the house for good fortune, prosperity, and well being in the coming year and they wear their red colored finest outfits (red clothes not only mean power, happiness, and vitality, but they aim at scaring the ghosts and bad spirits).

You may have noticed  slogans or poems on the door of the hutongs or on the door of apartments in your compound:, as well as paper cuts in the shapes of animals and plants (each of them having a special meaning) on windows: people paste those red color signs to guard their doors from evil spirits. People will also hang red lanterns in their houses.

Nowdays, over 700 million Chinese people watch the Spring Festival Gala on CCTV: this is the largest audience of any TV show in the world. 

Around midnight, many people go out to play with fireworks and firecrackers. There is not only an official fireworks show, but millions of residents will play millions of firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers. Around midnight the city is amazingly loud and smoky, leading to a pollution peak. In 2015, Beijing has reduced the amount of fireworks for sale in order to avoid pollution: the period of sale has been reduced from 20 to 11 days.

After the fireworks, Beijingers would eat  dumplings or jiaozi as symbol of prosperity.

  • Spring festival Temple Fairs in Beijing

Previously temple fairs were related to the religious activities of temples. Nowadays, temple fairs look like shopping markets and folk culture activities, while religious activities have become less important. Ancient ceremonies are also reacted: ceremony of worship to Earth and Heaven, dragon dances and lion dances, demonstration of traditional arts and crafts, food fairs… 

Feng Huang Ling Temple  1) Feng Huang Ling Temple Fair
Date: Thu 19 Feb – Tue 24 Feb
Time: 8am-4pm
Admission: 25 RMB
Address: 19 Fenghuangling Lu,  Haidian district / 海淀区苏家坨镇凤凰岭路19号
Website: http://www.bjfhl.com/
Tips: Visit also the park!
Getting there: From Summer Palace, take the bus 346 till the terminal 终点站凤凰岭下.

2) Changdian Temple Fair
Date: Thu 19 Feb – Tue 24 Feb
Time: 9am-4pm
Admission: 10 RMB
Address: Liulichang Jie, Xuanwu District, 宣武区琉璃厂街 (south of Tian’anmen Square)
Getting there: Take subway line 2 to Hepingmen Station

Ditan temple fair2Ditan temple fair3) Ditan Temple Fair
Time: 6am – 9pm
Address: Ditan (Temple of the Earth) Park, East Avenue, Anding Gate, Dongcheng District
Getting there: Subway station Yonghegong-Lama Temple
Tip: The Reenactment of the Qing-Style Sacred Ceremony scheduled at 10am daily.

4) Dongyue Temple Fair
Time: 9am – 4pm
Address: Dongyue Temple, 141 Chaowai Avenue, Chaoyang District
Tip: Go here for the exhibition of “Fu (Good Fortune)” culture.
Website: http://www.dongyuetemple.com/
Getting there:  East from Chaoyangmen subway stop

5) Others
– Wuxiancaishen Temple Fair (Xicheng District),
– Baiyun Temple Fair
– Hongluo Temple Fair (2 Hongluodong Road, Huairou District, Beijing, 怀柔区红螺东路2号)
– Dragon Spring Temple Fair of Fenghuang Mountain
– Old Summer Palace Temple Fair
– Lotus Pond Temple Fair

  • Other cultural events

1) Longtan Fair
What? Sporting event
Address: Longtan Park, 8 Longtan Road, Dongcheng District, 东城区龙潭路8号龙潭湖公园北门内(近体育馆路)
Getting there: Take subway Line 5 to Tiantandongmen Station.

Longqing Gorge Ice and Lantern festival2) Longqing Gorge Ice and Lantern festival
What? This is Beijing’s own little Harbin, the annual Longqing Ice Sculpture Festival takes place at the Longqing Gorge.
Dates: Thu 29 Jan – Sat 28 Feb
Time:  9am-10pm
Admission: 100 RMB
Address:  Gucheng village, Yanqing county /  延庆县古城村

3) Chaoyang International Carnival
Address: 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District 朝阳公园, 朝阳区农展馆南1号 (South gate of Chaoyang park)
Admission: 10 RMB

  •  Business as normal… or almost

If you never spent one Spring Festival holiday in Beijing, you need to be aware that many restaurants and shops are closed, since most of the staff went back home, in their “laojia”. Here is a list of restaurant that will operate during Chinese New Year 2015, normal hours:

1) Crepanini (4 locations: Sanlitun, Park View Green, Nanluoguxiang, Silk Market)
2) Annie’s http://www.annies.com.cn/en/
3) The Bookworm (opening as usual)
4) Ganges Indian Restaurant
5) Great Leap Brewing
6) Hatsune
7) Home Plate Bar-B-Q
8) Xian bar

Other restaurants or bars: you’d better call before getting there! Some restaurants will also charge extra % on the Chinese New Year Eve.

Scout Real Estate wish you all the best for the Goat Year: Xin nian kuai le!

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I am living in China since 2007. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!