Monday, 19 February 2018

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing

A while ago I wrote a bucket list filled with all of the things I wanted to do in life. I mean, there were hundreds and hundreds of things on there and one of them was to celebrate Chinese New Year in Beijing. As I've got to know and understand myself better, I've changed many of those things that I wanted to do, and the list doesn't exist anymore other than my head, but this year I celebrated Chinese New Year in Beijing. 

Chinese New Year in Beijing probably isn't how you imagine it to be. It definitely isn't how I imagined it to be. I imagined craziness, wildness, music, dancing, colours, big celebrations. Those things do all happen, but Chinese New Year is much more of a family celebration than a public one. And big cities empty and an eery quietness descends that it not often heard in China, particularly Beijing with its huge population. 

Everybody travels home for Chinese New Year, it's a celebration all about family and if there's one thing the Chinese do well, it's respect and look after their elders. From midnight of Chinese New Year's Eve you can hear firecrackers and fireworks all around and this continues for the next 4 days. The fireworks aren't set in a particular place as a planned event like they would be in many countries, they are set off by individual families celebrating together, so there are little pockets of fire flying from all different directions. After that you will hear fireworks going off pretty much constantly at all hours of the day or night as the celebration continues. 
Another tradition of Chinese New Year in Beijing is to attend a traditional Temple Fair in one of the many city parks or public areas. These are big fairs the celebrate all things Chinese. Here you will see lots of traditional Chinese craftsmanship and skills, as well as some of the strangest food (with lots of dangly bits) on a stick, drinks and lots of games. 
Being the year of the dog, the whole park was decorated with dog statues of every sort you could think of, as well as lanterns, banners and red signage everywhere you looked. It was a great atmosphere, with everybody full of the joys of a new year that we feel over the Christmas period. By the time we got there is was absolutely heaving to the point that you couldn't move! We drifted along with the crowd, looking at the stands and decorations as we moved (got carried) along! My favourites were watching a man blow sugar, shaping it into animals from the Chinese New Year story, I also loved the calligraphy too, they are so bloody talented! 

Tips

If you're in Beijing for the Chinese New Year celebrations, visiting a Temple Fair should definitely be on your list. Here are my tips for visiting a fair and getting the most out of it. 

★  Temple Fairs are always busy, but from my experience New Year's Day is the quietest day. The fairs run for 4-5 days following Chinese New Year's Eve, but if you are only planning to spend one day there, make it New Year's Day.

★  Be in line for opening time. Each fair has different opening times, but they begin as early as 8am and they get busy very quickly. China doesn't have the same safety standards that we expect in the Western world so there doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of people that can enter. Get there for opening time and you'll be able to enjoy the fair before it gets too busy to be enjoyable.

★  Bring a selfie stick or tripod. With the area being so busy, it can be difficult to get photos, and we all know how important a good photo is. Bring a selfie stick along so you can reach above people's heads to get a good shot, because a photo with a sea of heads just won't cut it. 

★  Wear red. In true Chinese style, you will find red everywhere at Temple Fair, from the decoration to the visitors. Blend in and show your respect to the holiday by wearing some red clothing.

★  Bring along some cash. The Chinese have many crafts that produce the most beautiful products that are completely unique. Temple Fairs are the perfect place to buy some unique gifts and memories of your trip to Beijing. It's also a great place to play the game and east all of the food. 

So that was my first experience of celebrating a traditional Chinese Temple Fair. Now that I've seen it, I'm not sure I'll be rushing back, mostly because that many people in a small space, eating squid on a stick gives me nightmares. But, I'm glad that I can say I've experienced it. I mean, how many people can casually describe the time they celebrated Chinese New Year in Beijing?

Have you celebrated Chinese New Year in Beijing or China? What was your favourite thing? How was Chinese New Year celebrated in your city? Talk to me! 

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24 comments

  1. Fab pics, Nikki! I love all the hanging lanterns, and the red everywhere. What a cool experience. Next year you can celebrate it in Chinatown in London. :)

    Gosh, I remember those bucket lists. I still had mine up until a couple of years ago, and yes, when I read it, I realised I'd added stuff I thought I should do rather than things I actually wanted to do. I still make lists (love a good list), but they're much more focussed now.

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    1. Thanks B! Remember the 1001 lists we tried to write? I had everything on there - I've probably quartered it now! I love a good list too though - forever making lists. You should check out the Wunderlist App - you'll love it! x

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  2. Your pictures are amazing, so colourful ! I love the way you're writing!

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  3. Oh my goodness how amazing does it sound to celebrate Chinese New Year in Beijing! The way they have decorated everything is just beautiful as well!

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  4. I've never celebrated Chinese New Year before. However, if I were ever in China, it would be awesome to go during this time.

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  5. What cool photos! I don't know much about the Chinese New Year, but I imagine this would be so much fun.

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  6. This looks like it was such a wonderful celebration! Everything looks stunningly beautiful and decorated so wonderfully! I would love to experience this.

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  7. Oh wow! How fun!! This is such a great experience and so cool that you got to do this. The pictures are really neat also so thank you for sharing!

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  8. Happy Lunar New Year! May the year of the dog bring you happiness and prosperity! xo, Suzanne

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  9. This looks like such an amazing experience xxx the decorations are beautiful

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  10. OH my gosh this looks amazing! I never have thought of this as something I want to do but it might have just changed my mind. Your pictures are so fun and I love your tips!

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    1. It's a great and unique experience Courtney! x

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  11. Wow! Beautiful pics! My bestie V is the one who introduced me to Chinese new Year. Sounds like a great tradition!

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  12. That's how to do it! Looks like you had a blast and celebrated to the max.

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  13. Happy new Year to you! Looks like a great place to be, especially during the celebration period!

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  14. This reminds me so much of my trip to Taiwan last year. Everything is so bright and cheerful

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    1. Taiwan is definitely on my travel list! The atmosphere is so cheerful during CNY! x

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  15. I pinned this! I would love to travel to Beijing for their Chinese New Year and go to the Temple Fair!

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    1. That's for pinning my post :-) It's definitely an authentic experience! x

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  16. This celebration looks fun! There are fun celebrations in here too. It is always fun to watch dancing dragons and fireworks.

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  17. I love that it's a time for family and that everyone travels home. I also love how like you said, it's a pretty respectful event. Overall absolutely beautiful.

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