Wet Hot Chinese Summer! China festival roundup summer 2011

by Sascha Matuszak
Posted: May 19th, 2011 | Updated: May 25th, 2012 | Comments
Dragon Boat Festival, Du Wu Jie Summer is here and it's time to let your hair down, relax and wear flip-flops to work. Get that belly trimmed down. Get a tan or get an umbrella... forget about your worries and barbecue every day. And when you get bored of relaxing and your skin is a nice golden brown (or a pearly white), then get your fine-lookin' self out to one of these festivals and get naked! Nothing says "summertime" like festivals and nudity. Unfortunately, the list we have below is not nudist-friendly (at least not openly), but China is a developing nation... so anything goes right? Right. >>>

Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔ Jié, 龍舟節)

When: 6 June 2011 Where: A waterway near you What: Another "advisor commits suicide after being spurned by the Emperor" tale. The sage in question, Qu Yuan, was exiled for giving unpopular advice, and when he finally succumbed to despair and threw himself into a river, local villagers raced out on dragon boats to "prevent the fish from eating his body." Today, the festival includes dragon boat races and zong zi buffets to celebrate the failed attempt to keep the fish off of Qu's bloated corpse. Propelled to national holiday status back in 2009, everyone gets the day off work, making for a nice long weekend. And don't worry... if dragon boating is not your thing, there are plenty of other great June holiday adventures to be had...

Double Seventh Festival (Qī Xī Jié, 七夕节)

When: 6 August 2011 Where: Under a flowering fruit tree, along the river, at a fancy restaurant, in the Spirit World What: Sometimes called Chinese Valentines, this is the day the Cowherd and the Weaver—star-crossed lovers from ancient times—are allowed to meet and express their devotion to each other. These days it's just another opportunity to send chocolates in pink boxes and go get that dinner/movie you've been promising her for weeks.  If you really want to be in the spirit just imagine if, like the Cowherd, this were the last time you'd be able to be with that special someone... for a WHOLE YEAR... Naadam Festival

Nadaam Grassland Festival

When: 1-14 July (with pre- and post-partying) Where: Throughout Inner Mongolia and the nation of Mongolia What: Mongolians demonstrating what might happen to us all if they decide to get up and start kicking ass again: archery, wrestling, horse riding, enemy crushing, Tree of Woe papier maché contests and serious binge drinking. Cities across Inner Mongolia will be having competitions and gatherings... but the farther away from the cities you wander, the more real the body slams and liquor face-offs get. Check out prices and schedules for flights to Hohhot and Hohhot hotels on Ctrip.

Hungry Ghost Festival (Guǐ Yuè, 鬼月)

When: The entire 7th lunar month (in 2011 the portal to Hell opens on 14 August) Where: In the attic, in the basement, at night while you shiver under your covers, in the Spirit World... and particularly in Hong Kong and southern China What: A whole month of Halloween... without the trick or treating. Instead of tricking your neighbors into giving you candy, you trick ghosts into spending fake money, befuddle them with clouds of incense, placate them with plates of food and guide them back to Hell with paper boats and floating candles. Yi Torch Festival_Yunnan

Yi Torch Festival (Huǒ Bǎ Jié, 火把节)

When: Various dates throughout August, starting on the 10th and ending the 24th Where: Chuxiong, Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan Province; Xichang and environs in Sichuan Province; What: A celebration of the end of summer and the beginning of the fall with fire, bullfights, eating and beauty contests. The festival is primarily an Yi minority celebration and based on their legends, but several other ethnic groups in southwest China take part in the festivities as well. Getting there is easy with Ctrip: just click through for info on flights to Xichang and Xichang Hotels Litang Horse Festival

Litang Horse Festival (Lǐtáng Sài Mǎ Jié, 理塘赛马节)

When: 1-7 August Where: Litang, Ganzi Prefecture What: Horse racing, wrestling, all around nomads-hitting-the-town-madness. The whole plateau gathers around Litang for a week or three of competition, brawling, marrying, Tibet), but Litang is the most famous. To get to Ganzi you'll want to hop on a our blog.

Qingdao Beer Festival (Qīngdǎo Guójì Píjiǔ Jiē, 青岛国际啤酒节)

When: 13-28 August (tentative) Where: Qingdao, Shandong Province What: The Qingdao attempt at the famous Oktoberfest in Munich. The beer flows and stalls go up along the coast and all around town for TWO WEEKS of drinking, partying, eating and high-level schmoozing... The festival's dates haven't been set yet, so stay tuned for updates on when to book your flights to Qingdao. Hotels in Qingdao will also be busy during this period so be sure to book early and if you're not much of a drinker, you might want to check out a few other Qingdao activities.

Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhōng Qiū Jié, 中秋节)

When: 12 September Where: Across China What: Celebration of the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest season. The Mid-Autumn Festival does not fall on the autumnal equinox (23 September, 2011), but on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which is nevertheless associated with the shift from summer to fall that the equinox represents. In China, the festival is surrounded by myths of the moon goddess, Chang'e and her husband Houyi, the Archer. Most stories agree that Chang-e ate a pill of immortality when she shouldn't have (Oh, those disobedient women!) and therefore resides on the moon while her husband, Houyi resides 1) on earth 2) on the sun or 3) in Hell as punishment depending on who is telling the story to whom. In modern China, the festival requires every single Chinese citizen to eat mooncakes, small round pastries with a yummy filling, to the great joy of mooncake bakers all across the nation. Another national holiday, everyone gets the day off work and gets together with family and friends to eat the aforesaid mooncakes and maybe light a lantern or two and admire the moon.
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