For Chinese New Year this year, I went to Beijing!! This was my second time visiting Beijing but my very first time visiting the city during the biggest holiday of the year. This time around, Ke and I spent the majority of our time with family and friends instead of doing touristy things.
This trip was also a few months after our wedding and was the perfect chance to see Ke’s family members that couldn’t make it to America for the wedding.
New Year’s Eve Dinner
One of the highlights of any trip to China is the food. We had two amazing feasts during the holiday with family. The first meal was the New Year’s Eve family dinner or “nianyefan.” This was followed by another large feast the next day on New Years Day. Below is just a tiny snapshot of both meals:
The fireworks were insane in Beijing! To begin with, there are firework vendors throughout the city selling all types of explosives banned where I’m from. I’m not entirely sure if the government has their own fireworks display, I would assume they do, but there is really no need to leave your block to see a spectacular show. People began shooting fireworks everywhere a few hours before midnight and continued shooting fireworks for 4 days straight. We too, took to the streets and fired off our arsenal.
On New Year’s day, we braved the crowds and went to a Miaohui festival, a temple fair held during Chinese New Year. Despite the sea of people in my pictures, it was a lot of fun. We joined Ke’s dad, step mom, and sisters and explored the toys, food and activities. My favorite thing to witness was definitely the sugar blowing and art sculptures. Sugar blowing is were artists create little statues by blowing into hot sugar. It was super cool to see.
Beijing 798 Art District
We were a lot less touristy during this visit to China. For my first Beijing trip and the top tourist attractions to visit, check out this post. However, in between family time, Ke’s cousins showed me around a few new places I hadn’t seen before. We took some time one day to go to the Beijing 798 Art district.
This art zone used to be an old military factory that was decommissioned. Eventually artists took over the area and transformed it into a gorgeous, albeit hipster, art area filled with shops and cafes. While a lot of shops were closed due to the holiday, we still had a lot of fun wandering around and checking out the shops that were open.
We also visited Yonghe Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist temple and monastery. It was an extremely chilly day but we were also greeted with gorgeous blue skies while touring this beautiful historic site. I highly recommend a visit here, I also paid for an audio tour and it was well worth it.
You can’t make a trip to Beijing without exploring the many alleyways in the Hutongs. This time around, we spent less time at the main touristy hutong street and wondered around other alleyways near Yonghe Temple. We stopped in some cute shops for drinks and snacks and often found ourselves in the hutongs at night.
It was a gorgeous and surreal experience to be able to walk down these historic alleyways and see fireworks surrounding you in the distance. This was one of my favorite experiences during Chinese New Year.
Another fun treat to witness during Chinese New Year are the many light shows around the country. We went to the Solana Light Festival which took place in a large outdoor mall.
An Incredible Experience
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing was an incredible experience, especially now that I have family there. It’s a really special thing to be able to reunite and celebrate a meal together. Family from America, Russia, and other parts of China all met in Beijing, and later in Xian, to celebrate the New Year and enjoy each other’s company. My Chinese skills were also a lot better this time around and I could actively participate in conversations. I can’t wait until the next time I’m able to return for Chinese New Year!