7 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

From temple fairs in Beijing to fireworks in Hong Kong, here’s how cities throughout China plan to welcome the Year of the Goat.

Feb 6, 2015
  • Chinese New year firecrackers in Dongcheng district hutongs, Beijing
  • Chinese New Year locals flock to Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai.
  • For Chinese New Year visitors give thanks at Hangzhou's Lingyin Temple
  • Thousands flock to Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour to watch the Chinese New Year fireworks.
  • Sampling Guanzhou Zongzi Rice Dumplings in Bamboo Leaves
  • Celebrations take place at A-Ma Temple in Macau.
  • At Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen, Zhuo Yue Xuan’s Executive Chef Tse Man has crafted a special Chinese New Year–themed menus.
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In Beijing, nightly firework displays illuminate the hutongs of the city’s Dongcheng District.
Photography La Priz
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Shanghai locals flock to the Jade Buddha Temple, where they welcome the New Year with prayers for prosperity and good fortune.
Photography Rawmin Zhang (left), David Almeida (right)
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At Hangzhou’s Lingyin Temple, visitors burn incense for blessings and luck in the coming year.
Photography Anne Roberts
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On the second day of Chinese New Year celebrations, thousands flock to both sides of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour to witness the spectacular fireworks that light up the night sky.
Photography Thinkstock
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For a delicious taste of the traditional festivities, head to Guangzhou’s Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street to sample dumplings, boiled chicken and stir-fried pancakes.
Photography Monkeylikemind
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In Macau, colourful celebrations take place at the 15th-century A-Ma Temple, the oldest in the city.
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At Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen, Zhuo Yue Xuan’s Executive Chef Tse Man has crafted a special Chinese New Year–themed menus that include classic New Year treats and traditional dim sum delicacies.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Each year, on the first day of the first lunar month, people throughout China and around the world begin a two-week celebration that includes family gatherings, feasts and firework displays. Chinese New Year—also known as Spring Festival or Chun Jie—corresponds to the Chinese zodiac, which is based on a 12-year cycle with each year represented by an animal. The Year of the Goat begins on February 19, and festivals and events are planned throughout China until March 5. During this time, red lanterns hang in the streets, visitors throng the temples and shouts of xin nian kuai le! (“happy new year”) fill the air.

Shops, restaurants and businesses take a break for Chinese New Year, but it’s still a great time to visit. Here’s how you can celebrate in destinations around the country.

Explore temple fairs in Beijing

The city’s colourful temple fairs date back to the Tang Dynasty. Join crowds at Ditan Park or Yuanmingyuan for folk performances, lion dances, local snacks and street vendors. Don’t expect to get much sleep with the round-the-clock fireworks, so go with the flow and visit the Drum and Bell towers amid the hutongs of the Dongcheng District for late-night firecracker displays.

At Four Seasons Hotel Beijing: Enjoy a special Chinese New Year menu—featuring delicious and traditional dishes from braised prawn with black truffle to jiaozi (homemade dumplings filled with seafood)—at Cai Yi Xuan, where you’ll receive a complimentary serving of gold ingot–shaped dim sum symbolising good wishes for the year to come.

Find good fortune in Shanghai

Follow the locals in this commercial hub and pray for prosperity at the Jade Buddha Temple, ringing the temple bell to ensure good fortune comes your way. The city’s Ming dynasty Yuyuan Garden and nearby Yuyuan Old Town buzz with a festive atmosphere.

At Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai: At Shang-Xi, Chinese Executive Chef Simon Choi incorporates Western elements into traditional Chinese New Year dishes, adding black truffle to steamed star grouper fillet and preserved mandarin peel served in a bamboo basket. Finish the evening festively with classic fried, lotus leaf–wrapped glutinous rice with cured meat and conpoy.

At Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai: Celebrate the Lunar New Year’s Eve with a traditional Chinese delicacy, prepared by Chef Wayne Wang at Si Ji Xuan: Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, which originated in the Qing dynasty, requires two full days to prepare and is made from more than 20 high-quality ingredients. According to legend, the dish’s aroma enticed a monk to jump over the temple’s wall to find it.

Celebrate Buddhist traditions in Hangzhou

Culture-rich Hangzhou and scenic West Lake have long inspired poets and artists. But for Chinese New Year, visitors flock to give thanks at Lingyin Temple, one of the best-known Buddhist temples in the country. Hangzhou’s Jinci temple is another favourite site; to mark the arrival of the new year, visitors ring the temple’s bell 108 times—108 being a significant number in Buddhism.

At Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake: Start the new year on a refreshing note with the Joy of Rejuvenation spa treatment. After your personal yoga or tai chi training session, an herbal warming treatment energises and awakens the body and mind. Finish with a light, healthy meal to prolong the wellness benefits.

Watch colourful fireworks in Hong Kong

It may be a modern metropolis, but Hong Kong loves tradition. Shop for mandarin orange trees, lucky bamboo and pussy willow in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park flower market. Marvel at the brightly coloured floats and lion dancers at the International Chinese New Year Night Parade along Tsim Sha Tsui’s harbour front. The fireworks display over Victoria Harbour the day after Chinese New Year is stunning; get there early to secure a spot.

At Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong: Pudding is a traditional dish at Lunar New Year celebrations, and at Lung King Heen, Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak has created a new pudding especially for the Year of the Goat—a luxurious take on the classic, infused with Earl Grey tea and sugar cane.

Feast on festive cuisine in Guangzhou

If you want to celebrate the culinary traditions of Chinese New Year, there’s no better destination to visit than the southern city of Guangzhou. Head to Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street for tasty dumplings, boiled chicken, rice cakes and stir-fried pancakes.

Honour spiritual beliefs in Macau

Celebrate with the locals at the lively 15th-century A-Ma Temple, where gods and deities are honoured with dragon dances, drumming and fortune tellers.

At Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip®: Numerology, which has a long history in Chinese culture, is especially significant at Chinese New Year. In honour of the festive season, Zi Yat Heen Executive Chef Ho Pui Yung has created an auspicious eight-course meal—the number eight represents new beginnings and good fortune—that includes braised superior bird’s nest with minced chicken, baked crabmeat with Périgord truffle in shell, and sautéed prawns with fungus and sweet bean.

Go dancing in Shenzhen

The pace of life slows in this southern city located in China’s Guangdong Province, as many residents head home for the holidays. Parties continue in downtown Lianhua Park with fireworks, flowers, food and dancing.

At Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen: Friends and family can come together over Zhuo Yue Xuan’s New Year–themed menus, which include dishes such as seafood hotpot, two-ways geoduck and a selection of dim sum delicacies. Traditional treats—such as classic turnip cake, five grains turnip cake and New Year puddings—are available to sweeten the festivities.

More Chinese New Year traditions

  • On New Year’s Eve, all of China prepares for the celebrations, and planes, trains and buses fill with people heading home for a customary family reunion dinner. Traditional dishes such as (fish), jiaozi (dumplings) and noodles are served as symbols of prosperity, wealth and long life, respectively. At midnight, fireworks illuminate the sky, and firecrackers—the louder the better—are set off to chase away Nian, a legendary monster who was said to attack villages every spring.
  • On New Year’s Day, people dress in red (an auspicious colour), visit relatives and give hong bao (red envelopes containing money for good luck). No one cleans, lest they sweep good fortune out of the door. Celebrations end with the Yuan Xiao Jie, or Lantern Festival, a full-moon festival with paper lanterns, games and tasty tangyuan (sticky rice balls).
  • In yusheng (also known as lo hei, or “prosperity toss”)—a Chinese New Year tradition that originated in Singapore and Malaysia—ingredients such as seafood, rice and plum sauce are tossed together by family and friends to mix colours and flavours, signifying the “tossing up of good fortune” for the new year. At Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen, yusheng (also available for takeaway) are served with a vintage Dom Perignon rosé Champagne from 2003, the last Year of the Goat.

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