Shanghai Events: A Year-round Calendar of Celebrations
Shanghai Events: A Year-round Calendar of Celebrations24th January 2024
With a population exceeding 29.8 million as of 2024, Shanghai ranks as the world’s third largest city and China’s largest municipality. Split into east and west by the Huangpu River, Shanghai serves as the financial, economic, business, and trade centre of China. Home to the world’s biggest seaport and rapid transit metro system, Shanghai is a dynamic trend-setting megacity.
Despite its commercial spirit and western influences, the city embraces both modern and traditional Chinese culture. Shanghai widely celebrates annual festivals, a majority of which tie in with the Chinese Lunar Calendar. If you are relocating or visiting Shanghai on a business trip, keep scrolling to explore a year-round calendar of celebrations.
Chinese New Year
10th of February 2024
‘Gong Hei Fat Choy’ (Wishing You Great Happiness and Prosperity)
Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is a major traditional holiday in China, marking the beginning of a new year in the lunisolar calendar. 2024 ushers in the year of the wood Dragon. It signifies opportunity, transformation, and prosperity. It's tradition amongst families in China to celebrate by lighting firecrackers, using red decorations that symbolise luck, and exchanging money-filled envelopes.
Spending Chinese New Year in Shanghai is spectacular, travellers staying in Shanghai can enjoy the festivities at the city’s Botanical Gardens including flower exhibitions, cultural performances and witnessing the bell-ringing ceremony at Longhua Temple. The gardens boast a tranquil atmosphere and when you’ve had enough you can walk down Nanjing Road which leads to shops adorned with beautiful lights and decorations.
24th of February 2024
The Lantern Festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month, is a celebration signifying the end of Chinese New Year. With a history spanning around 2,000 years, it represents reconciliation, forgiveness, and letting go of the past. The Yuyuan Garden Lantern Show in Shanghai’s Songjiang district is an impressive annual event that see’s large crowds visit each year. The lighting of lanterns symbolises the illumination of the future. You can find activities such guessing lantern riddles, enjoying tangyuan (a sweet rice soup), and watching traditional dragon dances. If you’re a business traveller planning a trip to Shanghai in late February, you won’t want to miss the Yuyan Garden Lantern Show.
Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival
Late March – Early April
Now a trademark of Shanghai, at the end of March thousands of blossom trees begin to flourish across the city. The first Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival was in 1991 and has become an annual celebration for the past 33 years. Pudong, particularly Century Park and Shanghai Nanhui Datan Peach Blossom Park, offers prime spots full of these colourful trees. The festival emphasises the connection between humans and nature, promoting environmental care. Exchanging gifts is a cherished tradition, signifying the fostering of human relationships.
Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day)
4th of April 2024
Qingming = ‘clearness’ and ‘brightness’
Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is where families across China, including Shanghai, light incense, clean, and place willow branches on ancestors’ graves meant to ward off evil spirits. Besides a personal and family focus, the festival also signals the start of spring, making activities like flying kites a popular custom. Traditional foods such as green rice balls and Qingming Zong (Rice Dumplings) are enjoyed. It is important for business travellers visiting or relocating to Shanghai to recognise that this a solemn festival so greeting people more politely is preferred, for example ‘wishing you peace at Qingming Festival’.
International Tea Culture Festival
Taking place over a week in March, April, or May annually
China’s Tea market is expected to reach over US$51.9 billion in 2024. The renowned International Tea Culture Festival is known for its vibrancy with the opening ceremony usually in Shanghai. The festival showcases China’s distinguished tea culture and attracts everyone from general tourists to tea specialists. People can learn different brewing techniques, sample exotic teas, attend seminars, visit tea art contests and more. The International Tea Culture Festival is a popular celebration.
Accommodation across the city fills up quickly, be sure to check out our serviced apartments in Shanghai.
Dragon Boat Festival
8th - 10th of June 2024
The Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Boats resembling dragons fitting up to 20 people go head-to-head in races such as the Dragon Boat Open Tournament (Shanghai Putuo station). In Chinese culture the fifth lunar month represents bad luck and infection, so the festival is also a celebration about wishing others good health and fortune. People traditionally hang mugwort pouches on gates and doors, meant to ward off diseases. Bars and pubs in Shanghai are lively during the festival, and perfect for business travellers and small groups looking to socialise and celebrate at night.
Hungry Ghost Festival
18th of August 2024
The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of the main Chinese traditional celebrations focusing on the worship of ancestors. Known as ghost month in China, August is when evil spirits are believed to enter the living world. People traditionally burn incense, joss paper, and other materials meant to calm wandering spirits. Saying prayers, paying respect to your ancestors, and preparing food and offerings are all common customs. One of the main festival messages is family closeness, it teaches children to not only care for loved ones but those less fortunate. If in Shanghai on business trip or with family, you may want to avoid certain actions such as water activities and picking up money as some superstitions see these as antagonising ghosts.
17th of September 2024
The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, is the second most significant Chinese holiday. Celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, it’s a 3,000-year-old harvest festival associated with appreciation of the moon. In Chinese culture the moon symbolises togetherness and stability, during this time of year it’s at its fullest so the festival is about celebrating unity. Traditions include lantern lighting, family gatherings, and eating mooncakes, a pastry snack. This celebration is perfect for business travellers looking for a family-oriented festival experience. If In Shanghai explore locations like The Bund, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, or Zhujiajiao Ancient Town during the festivities.
Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival
September 30th – October 6th
The Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival, held annually in Century Park, stands out as an impressive and captivating celebration in China and Asia. Combining modern technology, coloured lightning, and music, this celebration showcase’s the brand of Pudong’s urban cultural tourism and draws a sizable audience. Renowned firework companies from around the globe participate making it a wonderful spectacle. If you are relocating to Shanghai this festival is ideal for those business travellers looking to enjoy a large display celebration.
Shanghai International Art Festival
A month long starting on a date in October (not yet announced)
Established in 1999, the Shanghai International Art Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, is the country’s only state-level arts festival. Featuring a diverse range of projects from classical paintings to digital artwork, the festival highlights Chinese traditional arts and aims to increase cultural exchanges between China and the world. Live music performances, exhibitions, and art craft workshops make this an engaging festival. If in Shanghai on a business tip during the month of the festival, it’s an excellent chance to see some outstanding Chinese and international artwork.
Festivals and celebrations are a huge part of Chinese culture and the lunisolar calendar year. Shanghai is a great place to enjoy the festivities due to it being a dynamic city, with friendly locals, delectable cuisine, and technological advancements. Explore our Shanghai business travel guide and read about the city’s top nine eateries. To book accommodation browse our serviced apartments in Shanghai and please contact us if you have any queries.