China is a country known for its diverse and vibrant cultural celebrations. With more than 5,000 years of history, the country boasts a rich and unique heritage that is reflected in its festivals.
From Chinese New Year to the Lantern Festival, the Chinese calendar is full of traditional holidays celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Traditional Chinese festivals each have distinct customs, food, and important rituals that promise excitement and fun. Plan your visit to China around one of the many festivals in the Chinese lunar calendar to experience the best of the country’s rich cultural heritage.
Here are some of the Chinese festivals to keep in mind when planning your trip to China!
Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)
Like every calendar, the Chinese calendar starts with a New Year's celebration. The Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, is the most important festival in China and marks the beginning of the lunar new year.
It is celebrated for 15 days from the first day of the lunar year. The festival is a time for family reunions, feasting, and gift-giving.
Chinese people consider red an auspicious color during the Spring Festival as it is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Aside from red being a prominent color in decor and clothing during this time, many families also give out red envelopes, or Hongbao in Chinese, with monetary gifts.
The Mid-Autumn Festival goes by many names, including the Moon Festival and the Moon Cake Festival. It falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.
Considered a time for family gatherings and feasting on moon cakes, a traditional pastry filled with lotus seed paste or red bean paste, this is one of the most popular Chinese traditional festivals.
The round shape of the moon cake represents unity and completeness, and the festival is a time to celebrate the harvest and give thanks.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival, is a time to remember the patriotic poet Qu Yuan.
The festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and is celebrated with dragon boat races, eating zongzi (a sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves), and hanging aromatic sachets to ward off evil spirits.
Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)
The Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, is a time to remember and honor ancestors. Chinese families visit and clean the graves of their ancestors, make offerings, and burn incense.
This holiday takes place either on April 4 or 5 of each year, during Spring, as it follows the Chinese solar calendar, so the date varies each year. The festival lasts three days and begins after the spring equinox.
Double Seventh Festival (Chinese Valentine's Day)
The Double Seventh Festival, or Qixi Festival, is considered Chinese Valentine's Day. The day is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month and is based on a traditional love story of a weaver girl and a cowherd.
Globalization has changed how the festival is celebrated, and now it is typical for loved ones to send each other flowers, chocolates, and other gifts, similar to its Western counterpart.
On the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, China celebrates the Laba Festival to commemorate the harvest and give thanks.
The festival is celebrated by eating Laba porridge, a dish made with various grains and beans, and making offerings to pray for good fortune.
Winter Solstice Festival
The Winter Solstice Festival falls on the shortest day of the year, usually around December 21st. It is a time to celebrate the return of longer days and the coming of the new year.
The festival is celebrated with family gatherings, feasting on traditional winter solstice foods like dumplings and tangyuan (sweet glutinous rice balls), and offering sacrifices to ancestors.
Another important festival worth witnessing in China is the Lantern Festival. Also known as the Yuanxiao Festival, it is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month and marks the end of the Spring Festival celebrations.
The festival is a time for colorful lanterns, lion and dragon dances, and eating yuan xiao, a sweet glutinous rice ball filled with sesame, peanuts, and red bean paste. Good luck and happiness are the main themes of the festival.
Do you need a visa for China?
Yes, most foreign visitors need a China Visa to enter the country. Several visa options are available, including tourist visas, business visas, student visas, and work visas, each with specific requirements and criteria depending on the purpose of your trip.
iVisa offers a simplified application process, including a clear and concise application form, a step-by-step guide, and a iVisa Expert available 24/7 to assist and ensure your application is error-free.
To ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip, also please read our ultimate China travel guide, which will provide all the information you need to choose the right visa option for your specific needs and successfully obtain your visa. Additionally, the guide offers valuable insights and tips to help you navigate your visit to this beautiful country.