You’ve planned your dream holiday to China, you’ve known what to do and where to go for years. But did you check which dates to avoid on your dream holiday?
We are all know to avoid travelling to China during the Chinese New Year, Labour Day and the National Day Holiday when the whole of China is on the move! Hotels, trains and flights, including international ones, are overbooked and tourist attractions are overcrowded. Those are festivals which affect every single corner of this vast country but there are small, regional festivals which are gathering interest outside the country, making it difficult to visit certain parts of China when those festivals take place.
Here is a list of major local festivals in China which can affect your travelling.
At the beginning of the year the Ice and Snow opening ceremony takes place on the 5th January in the capital of Heilongjiang Province, Harbin. Since the establishment of the festival in 1963 its popularity has grown both in China and around the world. Today the Ice and Snow Festival is biggest of its kind and made the Guinness Book of Records in 2007 for the world’s largest snow sculpture.
During the Ice and Snow Festival the price of flights and trains from Beijing and Shanghai to Harbin treble. The hotels are overbooked and overpriced. The advantage is the duration of the festival – it lasts until the end of February, maybe March – depending on the weather conditions. More information about the Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin you can find on our Cool Travel Tips blog.
August sees the celebration of the national pride of China – Qingdao Beer, which since its worldwide publicity has changed its name to the Asian Oktoberfest. Shandong Province and its largest city, Qingdao, has a very interesting history – Qingdao was ‘leased’ to Germany during the 19th century, and as a result there is a lot of European architecture visible in and around the city. To feel more at home in Qingdao, the Germans built a brewery as well. The history of the brewery is a microcosm of the history of Qingdao – exhibited in it are items from all of the great 19th century empires – French, German, British, Russian and Japanese. Today the brewery is a pleasant place to visit and taste different beers. Following the German influence on the region, the Chinese introduced a beer festival in 1991 which today is the biggest in the world.
Again, flights, hotels and trains from the major cities are overpriced and overbooked and you should reconsider travelling to Qingdao during the beer festival.
Canton Trade Fair takes place between April 15th and May 5th in Guangzhou (formerly called Canton) near Hong Kong, with 400,000 overseas buyers and 22,000 exhibitors from China’s manufacturing industries. It is arranged in three one-week phases for the benefit of both hosts and guests, with electrical goods and machinery exhibited the first week, ceramics and household goods the second week, and medical and clothing the third. International flights are overbooked and the hotels are overpriced. The advantage is you can buy a package with flights, accommodation and entry tickets to the fair.
From kicking off with 12 teams in front of 3,000 people at the Hong Kong Football Club in 1976, Rugby 7 has grown to today’s three-day extravaganza of international rugby revelry, with 28 teams playing in front of a total of 120,000 spectators. Getting flights or hotels are proving to be very difficult. Advantage is the Hong Kong Tourism Board which publishes dates well in advance, giving you enough time to plan your trip to Hong Kong accordingly.
There are other festivals which don’t have international coverage but they are very popular locally and can disrupt your travel plans. The dates are changing on a yearly basis as they follow the lunar calendar. Festivals and their dates which you need to check before booking a trip to China are:
- The Dragon Boat Festival will take place on the 18th June 2018, but the following year it will take place on the 9th June 2019 and it’s one of the seven big public holidays in China. It’s celebrated across China in big cities, small towns and charming villages as long as there is a river nearby. The most famous Dragon Boat Races are in Hong Kong, Hangzhou, Guizhou and Yueyang.
- The mid-autumn festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar which would be between late September and early October of the Gregorian Calendar. It’s a public holiday in China and lasts two days. It’s celebrated across the country and may disrupt your itinerary as some of the sights could be overcrowded.
- Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day, Memorial or Ancestors’ Day is a traditional Chinese festival when people remember their ancestors. It takes place on the first day of the fifth solar term which makes it 4th or 5th April of each year. This festival is so important to the Chinese people that it is not just a public holiday but also features on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Celebration of the New Year is a public holiday in China too and it should be avoided except if you want to see the arrival of the New Year in China. It’s very loud though!