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Where to celebrate Chinese New Year | Insight Guides Blog

Where to celebrate Chinese New Year

When Chinese New Year starts on January 28, 2017, it's out with the Year of the Monkey and in with the Year of the Rooster. Read on to find which Chinese cities have the best celebrations and how to experience them for yourself
Chinese New Year in Guangzhou. Photo: Shutterstock
Chinese New Year in Guangzhou. Photo: Shutterstock

Chinese New Year in Guangzhou. Photo: Shutterstock


Chinese New Year is a great time to be in China: public buildings are festooned with coloured lights, people from all over China travel to reunite with family and friends, debts are settled, and food is consumed...  lots of it. From fireworks in Hong Kong to lion dances in Guangzhou, here are our top recommendations on the best places to experience the new year festivities

1. Beijing 

In the Chinese capital, people celebrate the New Year by attending miao hui (temple gatherings) in large parks. Temple fairs feature myriad activities and entertainment including stand-up comedy, Peking opera, martial-arts demonstrations, acrobatics, music, lion and dragon dances, home-made toys and, of course, food.

The Ditan Park Temple Fair is one of the biggest and most popular temple fairs, featuring children's puppet shows and fashion shows, art exhibitions, ice lanterns and snow sculptures as well as traditional Beijing snacks. Also popular is the Dongyue Temple Fair, one of the oldest temple fairs in Beijing, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty. People flock here to pray for good fortune, or fu and you can see the Chinese symbol of fu everywhere in the temple's architecture.

Forget travelling and sightseeing during this time of year – the whole country comes to a standstill. The best way to experience it is to plan ahead with our local experts; or if you're travelling outside New Year, book our Best of China trip, which takes in a stay in the vibrant Chinese capital.

2. Guangzhou

Guangzhou, in the south of China, is known for its New Year Flower Fairs. The sprawling city has blooming gardens all year round but it is during the Spring Festival that it really comes into its own, when the streets are decorated with fragrant fresh flowers and miniature landscapes, and filled with street folk shows and local calligraphy works.

Guangzhou has another claim to fame at this time of year: Lion dances. Lion dances are performed to bring good fortune and to ward off evil spirits. The impressive and colourful papier-mâché lion's movements are accompanied by firecrackers and loud music. 

Chinese New Year in Guangzhou. Photo: ShutterstockChinese New Year in Guangzhou. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Hong Kong

Hong Kong celebrates the Spring Festival in its own unique way, with a parade, spectacular fireworks and horse racing. This is the island's main celebration and it goes all out. The three-day festivities start on New Year's Eve with a night parade through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui featuring colourful floats, marching bands, troupes of acrobats, gesticulating dragons, traditional Chinese dancers as well as performing troupes from all over the world – all this to the sound of drums and firecrackers.  

The following day, a magnificent fireworks display is held in Victoria Harbour, with the traditional junks silhouetting against the backdrop of the high-rise skyline.

The third day is race day: the Spring Festival Races at Sha Tin Racecourse packs in a full programme of racing, as well as traditional festivities including the traditional lion dance. Experience the Hong Kong buzz for yourself by booking our Hong Kong Highlights trip, which takes in a sampan cruise on the harbour.

4. Harbin 

Harbin, in China's northernmost region of Heilongjiang, is known as 'Ice City' due to its harsh winters, of course, but first and foremost for its legendary Ice and Snow Festival, which coincides with Chinese New Year. The city fills up with superbly crafted ice sculptures, snow sculptures and ice lanterns.  

Ice and Snow World in Harbin. Photo: ShutterstockIce and Snow World in Harbin. Photo: Shutterstock

Ready to take a trip to experience Chinese New Year for yourself?

Explore all trips to China online now or talk to a local expert to design your holiday itinerary from scratch