China is a country with a captivating culture spanning millennia. Colourful, exuberant, and utterly magical, it’s a culture that continues to inspire, with thousands of exhibitions, concerts, and festivals being organised every year across its rural towns and urban metropoles. Three cities in particular, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, have an extraordinary series of upcoming events in 2019 that simply cannot be missed. Spanning from the daringly avant-garde to the rich in tradition, here are our absolute favourite:
It is no surprise that China’s most populous city hosts the country’s most iconic cultural events. This year, the calendar is packed, with every month boasting incredible line-ups. For us, the upcoming Shanghai Spring International Music Festival might be the most exciting. Taking place from April to May, the Festival is the oldest in modern China, showcasing exhilarating contemporary music and dance that fuses traditional styles with more modern and international influences. This year, the ceremonies will commence with a gigantic and spectacular celebration for the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic, and will include such tantalising offers as the “Everlasting Electric Waves” contemporary performance piece alongside “Firmiana Duo,” a young classical troupe.
There is also the Shanghai International Film Festival in June, which has showcased relatively obscure local and international talent since 1993. Last year, over 3000 films were submitted, and almost 500 were screened across the city’s cinemas. Films range from classic film restorations to pieces that reflect upon China’s place in the modern world. Also not to be missed is the vibrant Shanghai Art Fair in September or the hotly anticipated Shanghai Fashion Week 2019 in October.
In Nanjing, annual events are the backbone of the city’s cultural heritage. This year, we look forward to the spectacular Dragon Boat Festival in June, where colourful boats sporting carved dragons recreate the heroic attempts of locals to save drowned poet Qu Yuan over 2000 years ago. Festivities also include a plethora of specially prepared treats, chief among them the sticky rice zongzi dumplings.
Later, in September, comes the iconic Rain Flower Stone Festival. Here, the anomalous, sedimentary stones of the Yangtze river, polished to outstanding shine by the river’s flow, are celebrated throughout the city. Special stone collection runs take place and, in the city’s Yuhua Tai area, vivid performances evoking the stones’ mysterious gleam mesmerize audiences.
Perhaps the most visually striking of Guangzhou’s cultural events is the Yangjiang Kite Festival in October. Each year, over 10,000 kite handlers take to the scenic town of Yangjiang, just over an hour from the city centre. Dating back to the Song dynasty, kites are flown in imitation of a kite loving magistrate, and are all still made in the traditional southern Chinese style. The sky is awash with colour and with spectacular shapes, some kites even imitating dragons, lions, or eagles. To add to the excitement, there are competitions for the longest, largest, and even most maneuverable creations, making sure there’s something to wow every year.
Additionally, in August, there is the famed Lotus Flower Festival, located in picturesque--and aptly named--Lotus Blossom Hill, an hour from Guangzhou. The scenery itself is stunning, occupying an old Han stone quarry with towering exposed rocks and calm, serene lakes. In August, when the lotuses start to blossom, the lakes become aglow with the magenta shine of fragrant lotuses. Meanwhile, in nearby Panyu city, over 15,000 flowers are showcased, with over 280 varieties of lotus of display.
Jumeirah has properties in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Nanjing to place you in the heart of the cultural action.