Often local festivals add a vibrancy to your travels. You experience new foods, sounds and sights. The following pages allow you to see if there is a festival at the time, and within the areas, you plan to visit in china.
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What to do during Chinese New year in Beijing

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of the festival in China's capital.

Fireworks, temple fairs, karaoke: China's capital Beijing celebrates the Lunar New Year, the country's biggest holiday, with gusto.

New Year's Day this year falls on February 7, a Thursday, when many places will be shut. Things should start running again from the day after, yet not everywhere will be open.


7 p.m. - Chinese New Year is all about eating, drinking and letting off fireworks. Start off your festive experience in true modern Beijing style with cocktails at Face Bar. Located in an old Communist-era school in Chaoyang district, the bar has a retro-Socialist, brutalist chic feel and its Cosmopolitans are famous.

9 p.m. - Dinner at Taiwanese dumpling restaurant Din Tai Fung, which now has two branches in Beijing. Dumplings are traditionally eaten at new year because they are like gold nuggets from imperial days, though technically what are served here are steamed rather than the boiled, ingot-like dumplings, which look different.

11 p.m. - Beijing's bar scene still mostly revolves around central Sanlintun despite a plethora of new places opening in more salubrious locations. It is a strange mixture of the very seedy and the very fashionable. Try Kai bar for the former, where you can pole dance, and Bar Blue for the latter, with its excellent roof terrace. When you've had a few drinks, join the locals in setting off fireworks in the streets outside. Yes, it's dangerous, but it's fun and everyone does it at new year.


10 a.m. - You probably won't have had much sleep as the fireworks and firecrackers go on all night and even during the day during new year. Drag yourself out of bed, skip breakfast and head out to a temple fair.

Temple fairs in China are a family affair; crowded with people, and bustling with activity. Actors perform tricks while walking on stilts, and visitors sample Chinese delicacies and enjoy featured dragon and lion dances or craftsmanship displayed by local artisans.

Beijing has some of the best known temple fairs in China, such as at Ditan Temple. If the pollution recedes, and it normally does during new year when factories close, the temples and their red lanterns look stunning against the backdrop of Beijing's amazingly blue winter skies.

2 p.m. - A late lunch at the Hyatt's Made in China. It's always busy so book early for old school Beijing cuisine in a thoroughly chic setting. The Beggar's Chicken is a must -- baked in clay it comes with a mallet so you can smash the shell to get at the meat inside.

4 p.m. - Houhai is a pretty man-made lake not too far from the imposing Forbidden City. In winter it freezes solid and you can skate on it or push yourself around on a chair bolted to metal slats. The brave can swim in holes cut in the ice by a Beijing swimming association.

6 p.m. - Drinks at any one of the really basic restaurants in the hutongs or alleys north of Houhai. A chance to mingle with salt-of-the-earth Beijingers over large bottles of beer costing just a few yuan.

8 p.m. - Fish is another food many eat at new year, as the Chinese word for "abundance" sounds like "yu" the word for "fish". Beijing is very multicultural these days, so go eat Japanese at Hatsune, at 8 Guanghua Dong Lu, in Chaoyang. Sushi rolls with perplexingly good sauces and innovative fillings.

10 p.m. - Karaoke at Cashbox Partyworld. You'll have your own room to warble away in, so no need for performance anxiety in front of a room of strangers. Ask a Chinese friend to give you a Mandopop selection. It's not all about syrupy love songs these days, thankfully.


9 a.m. - Another good place to experience the bustling hum of the Chinese New Year celebrations are the pedestrian bridges and overhead walkways, where itinerant knick-knack sellers offer everything from mobile phone accessories to Tibetan jewellery.

Then visit Wangfujing in downtown Beijing and check out the pedestrian streets for live music and famous street snacks. Try the barbequed squid dipped in hot sauce, skewered seahorses, or grilled scorpions if you dare.

1 p.m. - Beijing is cold over new year, sometimes very cold. Food from the poor inland province of Shaanxi is the ideal fix for this, with its hearty lamb broths, spicy fried noodles with tomatoes and flat breads stuffed with ground up pork. Try Qin Tang Fu, near the East Second Ring Road.

3 p.m. - Jiuchang art district in the northeast. Smaller, grittier and more off the beaten track than the better known Dashanzi/798 area. The complex used to be an alcohol factory, which is what its name means, but is now split into different galleries and workshops. The art is hit and miss, but the atmosphere is relaxed and bohemian.

6 p.m. - Perhaps the most exceptional table to book in Beijing is Mei Fu Jia Yan -- named after one of the most famous Peking opera artists in modern history, Mei Lanfang. Mei's family chef opened this old Beijing eatery after his master's passing. The recipe for every dish is passed down from the Mei family and portions are limited each day.

* Addresses and telephone numbers can be found in free English language listing guides found at hotels, restaurants and bars all over Beijing.