World Festivals
    EuroEducation's Guide to Festivals, Holidays and Events worldwide  


Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is known as "Spring Festival". It marks the end of the winter season, analogous to the Western Carnival. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Chinese New Year's Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chxī or "Eve of the Passing Year." Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year". Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers.

Chinese New Year fireworks in Beijing
Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival orChinese Lantern Festival, is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by Chinese people. The celebration became popular during the early Tang Dynasty. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar, close to the autumnal equinox. In 2008 it was made a Chinese public holiday. Traditionally, family and friends gather in the evening to celebrate, eat festive fruits and mooncakes. After dinner, a visit to a public space, such as a park or shoreline, may follow for, literally, 'appreciating the moon'. It also provides a good excuse for a barbeque gathering. Importantly, lanterns and candles are lit. Traditional practices are being given a modern twist, most often for marketing purposes. For example, the traditional egg yolk, lotus seed paste & pastry mooncake will be offered with alternative fillings, such as green tea or chocolate.

Mid-Autumn Festival decorations in Beijing
Photograph by Shizhao

Shangyuan Festival

Shangyuan Festival is a festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the lunar calendar, the last day of the lunisolar lunar New Year celebration. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns. It officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations. In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones; in modern times, lanterns have been being embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in shapes of animals. The lanterns can symbolize the people letting go of their past selves and getting a new one, which they will let go of the next year.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has been held since 1963. Harbin is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. Officially, the festival starts January 5th and lasts one month. However the exhibits often open earlier and stay longer, weather permitting. Ice sculpture decoration technology ranges from the modern (using lasers) to traditional (with ice lanterns). While there are ice sculptures throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas: Enormous snow sculptures at Sun Island (a recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city) and the separate "Ice and Snow World" that operates each night. Ice and Snow World features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3 feet thick crystal clear ice directly taken from the Songhua River. There are ice lantern park touring activities held in many parks in the city. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.

Intro Music Festival

The Intro Music Festival is an annual outdoor electronic music festival that occurs in late May in the city of Beijing, China. It is the largest outdoor music festival held in China. Debuted in the year of 2009, Intro has become an annual showcase of the best of China’s thriving electronic music scene. It is held in a 46,000 square meter open-air plaza named 751 D-Park, located in the 798 art zone of Beijing. The festival lasts for one or two days depending on the year, with approximately 3 stages, 80 artists, 20,000 people in an open-air plaza. Initiated by Acupuncture Records, Intro revolves around the concept that music is a vital element that forms a connections between all people, and electronic music is the sound of an era. Every year, top-notch DJs and VJs from all over the world are invited to perform at Intro Music Festival. In addition to the main festival, panel discussions on electronic music culture, DJ/VJ workshops, remix competition and other activities are among the expansive event program, which attracts over 10,000 people to attend every year, marking Intro Music Festival the key event in the electronic scene in China.

Intro Music Festival 2012
Photograph: Miao Wong

Shanghai International Film Festival

The Shanghai International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in East Asia. The first festival was held from October 7 to 14, 1993, and was held biennially until 2001. Since its beginning in 1993, Shanghai International Film Festival has grown to become China’s only A-category international film festival. SIFF devotes itself to building up an international platform with four main programs including Competition, SIFF Mart, SIFFORUM, and International Film Panorama, in an effort to promote the industry development and enhance cooperation with the rest of the world. The festival awards several "Golden Goblet" Awards for best film, best director, best actor/actress, and other categories, as well as a "Special Jury Award". The International Student Shorts Award was introduced since the 9th SIFF in 2006, as a stage for the young people to communicate with renowned film masters and to display their works.
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