Deciding when to take your trip to China can be rather difficult. There’s simply so much going on, which means selecting when to book isn’t just a matter of considering the season. Like the Ice and Snow Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an excellent time to head to China and take in the celebrations.
As in most East Asian countries, including Vietnam, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated nationwide and is considered the second most important holiday after Chinese New Year. If you’re considering travelling to China during the Mid-Autumn Festival, what do you need to know? In this post, we share our essential guide to the ultimate harvest festival.
When is the Mid-Autumn Festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival traditionally takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. This year festivities begin on Monday 24th September 2018, with celebrations coming to an end during early October.
What can you expect from Mid-Autumn celebrations?
Known as the Mooncake Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival not only marks the end of the autumn harvest but also involves moon worship. As a result, modern day celebrations revolve around the making and sharing of mooncakes, a sweet, exotic cake filled with lotus beans. Want to make your own mooncakes at home? Try this traditional mooncake recipe.
Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations also involve a number of other cultural and regional customs. These include burning incense, dragon and lion dance performances (you’ll find these mainly in southern China and Vietnam), and the hanging and release of brightly lit lanterns.
If your Chinese is good, why not try to solve a ‘dēng mí’? Literally translated as lantern riddle, dēng mí involves the writing of a riddle on lanterns which other people will then attempt to guess.
Where’s the best place to celebrate?
Whilst the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated throughout China, those looking for the best festival events won’t be disappointed by Beihai Park. The Beijing-based park was the location Chinese emperors once rang in the Mid-Autumn Festival. The reflection of the moon on the park’s lake is as impressive now as we imagine it was then.
Visitors to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hangzhou can also enjoy Mid-Autumn celebrations lakeside, each of which makes for a truly picturesque scene. In Dali, you can even enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival by boat on the sparkling waters of Erhai Lake.
Any tips for enjoying the festival like a local?
While you’re enjoying the breathtaking dragon dance performances and enjoying beautiful lantern-lit streets, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also the perfect time to fly your own lantern as described by the Asia Internship Program:
“Kongming lantern – it is a paper lantern which can fly because of the burning candle in the middle heats the air in the lantern. People write their wishes on the lanterns and let them fly up into the sky, hoping the moon will hear their voices and make their wishes come true. Unfortunately, the practice of Kongming lantern is forbidden in Hong Kong because they pose a fire risk. You can still enjoy it in China so, get yourself ready!”
Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in China is just a click away. We run a number of exciting trips in and around China, with journeys departing from Beijing and travelling to a variety of destinations. Discover more about our China trips today.