Where to go in China over the Chinese New Year?

Q: I am planning on visiting china over Chinese new year? Where is the best place to see the celebrations? Is it Beijing? Can you suggest any good places to stay in the centre where the celebrations will be? How long will i need to see everything there is to see?

There are many places one can go to spend the Chinese New Year holiday (Spring Festival). For instance, if one is interested in more traditional folk culture, one may want to go to a small town. All considered, however, Beijing seems to be the place to be, where, in addition to celebrating the Spring Festival, one can do some more touring and sightseeing.

One form of celebration during the Chinese New Year holiday in China, Beijing included, is Temple Fair. This is a combination of festivities and sales that traditionally were held outside temples, for the benefits of people who come to temples to pay their respects to the divide. Today, the activity has become very much secularized, and the name has survived. One of these "Temple Fairs" in Beijing takes place at the Temple of Earth (Ditan). For the last Spring Festival (February 2008), this fair was on from Feb. 6 to Feb. 13 - that is from the Spring Festival Eve to to the seventh day into the new year. Some other "Temple Fairs", with various themes, were held simultaneously at other locations in Beijing - Chaoyang Park, Tanzhe Temple, etc. Qianmen Dajie (Front Gate Street), a traditional commercial street near Tiananmen Square, has been recently renovated and may turn out to be another point of interest during the Spring Festival holiday.

On the New Year's Eve, most Chinese stay home with their families, so there may not be a whole lot going on that particular evening. Some families do dine out instead of staying home. Eating at home or dining out, the Chinese are supposed to have dumplings that evening. In fact, traditionally, dumpling-making is a major activity for Chinese families on that particular day. The Central Television puts on a special show to entertain the families the show goes from 7:00 pm to small hours in the morning. For the Spring Festival holiday, the Chinese get seven days off. Most offices will be closed while stores remain largely open.

In the past, the municipal government of Beijing has also staged fireworks shows on the Spring Festival Eve, which took place at a number of locations across Beijing.

Additionally, one may consider a short stay of a couple of days at a farmer’s house in the suburbs to experience a little rural culture; some travel agencies arrangement such stays. Also, the Fifteenth Day after the Spring Festival is the Lantern Festival, around which some festivities take place. There are also winter activities that are not particularly related to the Spring Festival, such as ice sculpture shows or skiing in and outside Beijing.