Ring in the Year of the Monkey in China
Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, captivates young and old alike for 15 days each spring. Where better to welcome the Year of the Monkey on February 8, 2016 than in Shanghai or Beijing, China?
Spring Festival in Shanghai
The Chinese New Year in Shanghai is a delightful blend of new and old in this ancient city. If you arrive in Shanghai in the days leading up to New Year's Day, you can join the locals as they take to the streets for Spring Festival traditions of shopping and eating.
Fairmont Peace Hotel is a luxurious Art Deco building overlooking the Bund promenade on the banks of Huangpu River. From your hotel, you can wander through the city's most famous shopping district along Nanjing Road. The modern stores, small shops and local markets tantalize with an array of treasures for the willing shopper. Be sure to look for the red paper-cuts, a Chinese specialty for the holidays, which are often elaborate designs painstakingly cut from heavy red paper.
You’ll want to choose beautiful red and gold envelopes, which are traditionally used for gifting lucky money to the special people in your life. If you receive a lucky envelope, remember to save it and open it later out of respect for the tradition.
Cleansing, Renewing and Indulging
Chinese tradition calls for cleansing and releasing the old on the day before New Year's Eve. The Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Peace Hotel offers a variety of treatments that can help you relax and rejuvenate. A ginseng revitalizing bath and a traditional Chinese Tui Na massage are a terrific combination.
New Year's Eve is spent with family and honoring tradition. An ideal spot to celebrate the flavors of Shanghai is at Dragon Phoenix. Select from an assortment of live seafood, prepared to perfection. For local flavor, try the exquisite Bird's Nest delicacy or opt for the pork prepared in a traditional clay pot.
After the firecrackers quiet down on New Year's Day, catch a glimpse of Old Shanghai with a visit to the Peace Museum. Your concierge can arrange a hotel tour and walk you through the museum's curated collection of memorabilia celebrating almost 100 years of the Grand Dame's history.
A Huangpu River Cruise offers a different perspective on the city during the celebrations. Whether you opt for a 3-hour afternoon cruise or a short trek to see the highlights, you'll have a chance to glimpse Shanghai's iconic landmarks, including the Oriental Pearl TV and Jin Mao towers, the financial zone and the Nanpu and Yangpu suspension bridges.
Celebrate the New Year in Beijing
If your travels take you to Beijing to celebrate 2016 and the Year of the Monkey, you can embrace the city's modern luxury and stay close to its historical roots at Fairmont Beijing.
A traditional Chinese New Year awaits at Lunar 8, where you can savor Chinese dumplings. The classic crispy duck is also a favorite.
No visit to Beijing is complete without a day of exploring the city center. The Forbidden City, a World Heritage Site with 9,999 rooms, is approximately five miles from Fairmont Beijing. If you’re more interested in modern history, take time to visit Tiananmen Square, the world's largest public square. The daily flag raising ceremony is a memorable experience.
If you prefer a day-trip beyond the city, your concierge can help arrange for a tour to explore The Great Wall, about 1.5 hours from the hotel. If you plan ahead and ask the staff, you can take a bottle of wine with you to toast your visit to this ancient fortification.
If you’d rather stay in the city, plan to visit the Summer Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These royal gardens, located about 40mins from central Beijing, encompass more than 700 acres and include pavilions, temples, palaces and the majestic Kunming Lake.
The Lantern Festival in Beijing
As the Chinese New Year festivities draw to a close, the Lantern Festival becomes a night of celebration and revelry. Celebrated on the fifteenth day of Spring Festival, or February 22, 2016, the Lantern Festival brings parades, lanterns and dragon dancers to the streets of China.
Traditional taboos dictate how to act during the Spring Festival. Crying, sweeping, breaking things and even using scissors are considered unlucky until the last night of the Lantern Festival.
With the full moon overhead, there are numerous parties and parades throughout Beijing. Your Fairmont concierge can point you to the best spot for watching the fun. The city is filled with an amazing array of lanterns on this special day, some towering far overhead. As you explore the streets near your hotel, there are photo ops at every corner.
Be sure to taste the Yuanxiao or tangyuan, which are rice flour balls filled with sweet fillings. These little treats have been a Lantern Festival tradition for more than 800 years.
A trip to Beijing and Shanghai for the Chinese New Year celebrations and the 15-day Spring Festival offer the chance to create exquisite memories. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to start planning your Chinese New Year visit to welcome the Year of the Monkey.
Susan Lanier-Graham has been traveling the world and writing about food, wine and luxury destinations for 30 years. She loves filling her passport pages with stamps and visas and has visited every continent except Antarctica. Susan’s luxury travel articles, focusing on experiencing local cultures, have appeared in such publications as Luxe Beat Magazine, Modern Luxury and Montage.
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Great Wall of China by gaoshanshan
Lantern festival by 501room