Chinese New Year 2011, fell on the 3rd of February. It was the year of the Rabbit on the Chinese Zodiac. Celebrations typically go on for a week or so, and so it's a bit like a week long public holiday.
There is an incredible amount of fireworks being set off on the run up to and including the week itself.
I've an idea, lets go see the fireworks...
I've never seen or heard as many bangers, rockets, fizz bombs, crackle jacks, quarter sticks, lunar logs, pyro wheels, flaming dukes or sparklers go off in my life. I thought western New Year celebrations were impressive, which they can be, but this is mental.
Happy New Year
Chinese New Year gets the Thumbs Up
Fire-works can start as early as 6 a.m. These are usually quarter sticks or occasionally you might hear the odd half stick. This will continue on almost constantly into the evening and when it gets dark, everyone goes bananas. These are just locals, who have staked up van-loads of stuff, setting off in the middle of the hutongs. General rule of thumb seems to be, if you see someone in the middle of the road, smoking a fag, take cover. We were strolling down to get some noodles and spotted this guy of about 70, standing on the side of the road. As we got closer, he started shouting at us, but a split second later there was an almight bang. It put the heart cross-ways on me and honest to got I was tempted to slide yer man into a full nelson we were so shaken! He was a good laugh.
Its a great party night and everyone is on great form.
Who looks most like a rabbit here...
We weren't sure whether this guy was a local rock star or a world class athlete, he was a pretty cool guy though
Another part of the lunar celebrations is a temple fair that takes place in Ditan Park, in the northern part of Beijing. It's fairly accessible using the subway. The park itself is actually known as the Temple of Earth, and there is a temple there that is still in use, although it a small enough part of the park as a whole. The day we went along, there were what seemed like thousands, possibly millions of people enjoying the celebrations. It seemed very much like a family affair, with grand-parents, parents and children all bustling around. The park is full of tree-lined avenues and is very pleasant to stroll around in. There were countless stalls selling candy-floss, non-descript meat on sticks and all sorts. In the clearer areas of the park there were local dancing routines being acted out with multi-coloured handkerchiefs and flags and the occassional dragon dance. Real traditional stuff, which was great to see.
There is a moat that snakes around part of the city, just next to the park, which had frozen over so we had to give it a go..