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The Mid-Autumn Festival in China
The Mid-Autumn Festival in China

China is an exciting and fascinating place to visit all year-round, but at certain times in the calendar the country really explodes into life. Chinese New Year is an obvious highlight, but the nation has a number of other celebrations which entice international travellers.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, held annually in either September or October, is one such event and really shows off the best side of this colourful nation. Here we run through the key details of the festival, so you can fully enjoy the celebrations on your next visit.

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival and how did it begin?

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also referred to as the Moon Festival due to its traditional association with lunar activity, and it has its origins in the Shang Dynasty over 3,000 years ago. Chinese rulers of the time believed that the sun and the moon were closely tied to the changes of the seasons and controlled many elements in the universe. They duly prayed to the moon to thank it for helping with agriculture and to ask for good harvests in the future.

The tradition is still very much alive today and contemporary Chinese people make offerings to the moon while eating together around circular tables in order to bring themselves good luck.

How do people celebrate?

One of the most popular ways to celebrate the festival is through the sharing and eating of mooncakes - pastries consisting of a seed or bean stuffing inside a thin crust, often with a salted duck egg centre. Their prevalence has led some to refer to the festival as the Mooncake Festival, with their round shape said to symbolise reunion and bring happiness.

Lanterns also play an important part in the festival, with both traditional and extravagant varieties lit and sent into the sky. Nowadays inflatable lanterns are quite popular, with vibrant designs painting the skies with colour.

Such displays often take place in public parks, while impressive parades and performances may be found on stages around the cities.

Alternatively, some will choose to simply enjoy the natural beauty of the bright full moon and quietly appreciate the spectacle with family or friends.

When is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the eight month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when the moon is thought to be at its largest and fullest. This year the celebrations will be held between 22 - 24 September. In 2019, the festival will take place slightly earlier in the Gregorian calendar, with activities occurring between 13 - 15 September.

Where is best to celebrate?

The festival is celebrated in many Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, but China is home to some of the biggest events.

The capital Beijing is as good a place as any to take in the celebrations. In years gone by, Chinese emperors used to head to Beihai Park for the festival, with the moon reflecting beautifully in the calm lake water. The appeal of this picturesque park is as strong today as it has ever been, and Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center is perfectly located near to one of the city’s subway stations, making getting to Beihai Park, or other sites of celebration, incredibly easy.

In Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower provides a stunning place to witness the large moon. As the sixth highest TV tower in the world, the enlarged lunar surface feels closer than ever when visitors travel the 468m up to its viewing platform. Located just a short distance away is Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, making it the ideal base for those looking to celebrate the festival in the city.

In Shenyang, in northeast China, firework displays are a regular and popular occurrence. For visitors wishing to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in this corner of the country, Kempinski Hotel Shenyang has easy access to both the city and major transport hubs.

Wherever you choose to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, our hotels will be delighted to provide advice and a luxurious place to stay.

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