Painting the town red takes on a whole new meaning during the Lunar New Year. The color of joy and luck, red will be everywhere once the festivities get going. Celebrations kick off on February 5th and last up to 2 weeks in some areas. If you’re lucky enough to be in China during this incredible time, here are our tips for the best experiences and sights. Whether on the mainland or in Hong Kong, there really is something for everyone.
1. Catch the fireworks from a prime location
As the inventors of fireworks, the Chinese definitely know how to start the new year off with a bang. With limits on private use of fireworks common in main cities, public fireworks have been taken to the next level. If you’re in the area, you can’t miss Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour display. For premium seating, take a tour to see the heights of Victoria Peak or the Sky100 Observation Deck and enjoy panoramic views perfect for snapping pics.
2. Take the traditional route
Ringing in the new year comes with a lot of traditions, mostly designed to make sure the coming year is as healthy and wealthy as can be. Ceremonies and performances are a big part of this. A great way to soak up local culture is to enjoy traditional theater, like the time-honored Traditional Lion Dance Performance at Ngong Ping Village, which is often performed on the first day of the new year to scare off evil spirits.
3. Do the Temple Run
Traditionally, a key part of starting the new year on the right foot (literally) is to take a walk around temples and other spiritual sites. During the first days of the new year, temples are alive with activities and celebrations. It’s the perfect time to visit the 112 foot (that’s 34 meters) tall Great Buddha and experience the more sacred side of new year festivities. And if a stroll up the mountain sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry, there are cable cars to make sure you’re not too out of breath to enjoy the views.
4. New year, new foods
As with most Chinese celebrations, food plays a huge role. Each day of the new year calendar features auspicious foods and drinks. Press pause on any new year’s health kick and take a food tour. Around this time of year, you could be lucky enough to enjoy one of the most interesting — and delicious — new year traditions. Whether it is the classic jiaozi (dumplings) or tasty tangyuan (sweet rice balls), the festive meals of Chinese New Year can’t be missed.
5. Take advantage of timing
With many attractions host to special new year events, now is the perfect time to hit some of the most famous sights. Although spots like The Forbidden City and Summer Palace in Beijing are usually very crowded with both local and international visitors, you can show up a little earlier or enjoy the benefits of a skip-the-line ticket. The peaceful gardens and shimmering lakes inside are definitely worth the wait and are an oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.