Living in China
Best of Beijing

Expert recommendations of the top events—with tips on how to best experience these celebrations.

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival

First day of the lunar new year, generally late January or February. Chinese New Year is commemorated with business closures (up to three days), private feasts, and (illegal) firecrackers that can feel too close for comfort.

Dashanzi Festival

Late April-late May. A relatively new event, Factory 798's annual arts festival offers gallery receptions; art openings; music, dance, and theater performances; and lectures and panels. Tip: bring a flashlight for evening visits; the alleys are often unlit.

Midi Music Festival

Early May. Beijing's burgeoning rock scene draws avant-garde musicians from around the world to Haidian Park. Marvelous for people-watching. Tip: bring a beach towel or lawn chair.

Dragon Boat Festival

Fifth day of the fifth moon, generally May or June. Dragon boat racing and zhong zhi—sticky rice treats in bamboo leaves—are the remaining vestiges of this national holiday harking back to imperial China.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Fifteenth day of eighth moon, generally August or September. What's an occasion in China that doesn't involve food? This one entails yue bing— "mooncake"— pastries filled with your choice of black bean paste, dates, lotus seeds, salted eggs, and more.