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Festival's fair
By Li Jin (Beijing Weekend)
Updated: 2004-01-14 11:15

Festival's fairThe goat is about to give way to the monkey under the Chinese lunar calendar.

The celebration of the Spring festival is a traditional time to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

For many, the best way to celebrate with other people and get a flavour of local customs and traditions is by visiting one of the time-honoured temple fairs held in Beijing.

Beijing boasts many temples and consequently has a history of temple fairs dating back thousands of years.

In the past, temple fairs allowed citizens to participate in religious ceremonies, buy and sell goods and enjoy folk performances.

However, temple fairs in Beijing now are only held during the Spring Festival and help recall traditions of the past ?as well as being lively opportunities for celebration and entertainment in the present day.

What to see

Folk performances

Festival's fairMany of these performances cannot be found in theatres or anywhere else these days.

Stilt-walking and drum performances are regular features at any temple fair. Colourfully clad performers walk on two-metre-high stilts and greet visitors.

Acrobatics, martial arts performances, horse-riding performances and folk art displays by skilled craftsmen are amongst the other attractions.

In recent years, farmers bring more and more country goods and game tricks to entice the passers-by. You can even take a ride on a donkey with an embroidered saddle.

Peking Opera and many other regional variations attract older people.

Youngsters flock to fashion shows featuring pretty Chinese and foreign models.


You won't go hungry at a temple fair. Snacks are displayed in lines of booths , just asking to be tasted! It's one way to sample the many flavours of different ethnic groups across China.

Everywhere you go, the aromas of cooking food fill the air. Look out for birds, grasshoppers, fish and snakes being formed from boiling sugar and put on a stick and sold as lollipops.

Fried pie, soybean milk, rice cake, fried cake, bean curd, tea soup, toasted sweet potato, ravioli soup, baked sesame-seed cake and delicacies from land and sea can all be found.

Shop around

Most of the temple fair places are filled with booths offering various small cheap products ranging from tea, pot flowers, paintings, ceramics, books, birds and toys.

Most goods displayed at temple fairs still relate in some way to old traditions.

If you are a skillful buyer, you will find lots of cheap things here.

Remember bargaining is always necessary at temple fairs.

Pomp and ceremony

Grand religious ceremonies have been held in some temple fairs like Ditan, Tiantan and Baiyunguan (White Cloud Temple) in recent years. In Ditan or Tiantan, you can see the imperial sacrifice ceremony. In this, performers are dressed in imperial clothing of the Qing court.

Snap happy

Take your camera if you plan a temple fair trip in Beijing. It's a great insight into the lives of Beijing people in the past and present. The crowded temple fair offers a good chance for photographic creations.

You can also have a small gamble for a festival gift or learn an old craft like pottery or paper-cutting.

Where to go

Ditan (The Earth Temple) This is one of the city's busiest temple fairs. The park is the site of the altar where sacrifices were formerly offered to the earth god, and this year's fair will open with a performance imitating the Qing Dynasty sacrificial ceremony. Activities and events during the fair will include folk performances, fashion shows and a food street. Detailed programme schedule and events of this year's Ditan Temple Fair will be provided in next week's Beijing Weekend.
Location: 100 metres north of Lama Temple or Lama Temple Subway Station.
To get there: Yonghegong (Lama Temple) subway, bus 13, I 16, 62 for the south gate; trolley bus 104, 108, or bus 27, 358, 119, 407, 328, 803 or 912 for west gate. Also Andingmen subway
Fair time: January 21 to 28
Baiyunguan This is the grandest temple fair in the west end of downtown.
Fair time: January 20 to 28.
Location: Longfusi Jie, west of Dongsi Beidajie, Dongcheng District.
Fair time: January 21 to 28.

The Changdian Temple Fair was a favorite outing for Beijing residents during the lunar New Year. The Changdian fair is particularly held to draw people from all parts of the city and the world to buy and sell paintings and calligraphic works, antiques, articles for daily use, children's toys, food products and seasonal fruit and vegetables. In addition, entertainment is provided in the form of acrobatics, conjuring and operas.
This is one of the temple fair sites particularly enjoyed by foreigners.
Location: Liulichang Jie, Xuanwu District.
Fair time: January 21 to 28.

Shijingshan Amusement Park
This will be the third year that the park will hold a foreign-style of temple fair. It is almost like a foreign carnival parade.
Performance groups from Russia, Japan, South Korea and some North European countries will attend the fair.
Although it is situated at the remote west suburb of Beijing, visitors can get to its south gate by taking the subway to Bajiao Youleyuan.
Entrance ticket: 5 yuan (60 US cents)
To get there, take Line One subway to Bajiao Youleyuan. The park is 100 metres west of the subway station.
Fair time: January 21 to 28.

Beijing International Sculpture Park
A temple fair aimed at children particularly will be held in the park, which was opened last summer.
A cartoon carnival and lots of games and events will be held to attract children and their parents.
Location: Yuquanlu, Haidian District.
To get there, take Line One subway to Yuquanlu Station. The park is 10 metres southwest of the subway.
Longtanhu Park Preparation work is underway at Longtanhu Park where the 21st Longtan Spring Festival Temple Fair is set to be staged.
Besides the presentation of various folk shows, snacks and handicrafts, the Olympics and folk customs are the featured themes this year at the fair with more than 160 activities offering visitors cultural and sporting entertainment. There will be various interactive competitions inviting visitors to join arm-wrestling, rock climbing and chess playing.
Ticket: 5 yuan
Fair time: January 21 to 28.
Location: Zuoanmennei Dajie, Chongwen District.
To get there, Bus Route 807, 12, 6, 60, 116 get to the park.
Chinese Ethnic Culture Park The Chinese Ethnic Culture Park will gather 56 Chinese ethnic groups and hold a grand fair from January 19 to 28, 2004.
A total of 56 people from 56 ethnic groups will be selected from across China to showcase their culture and traditions in the park through a series of special events.
Different ethnic art works, costumes, snacks, paintings, wine and tea performances are provided to give a flavour of the country's ethnic diversity.
Hundreds of ethnic performances will be shown in the week around the Spring Festival (January 20 to 28).
Location: 1 Minzulu, Chaoyang District.
Dongyue Temple, Chaoyang Park (Sun Park), Ritan Park and the Grand View Park (Daguanyuan) will also hold fairs from January 21 to 28.

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