The temple fair is a social gathering in China. Legend has it that it originated in ancient times when people offered sacrifices to village deities, and the ritual’s location gradually evolved into a marketplace for people to exchange products as well as stage cultural performances.
At a temple fair, people worship the gods and pray for blessings while enjoying the festivities. Traditional shows such as xiangsheng (cross talk), banner shows, kung fu shows and lion dances all are staple features of the fair.
Beijing’s temple fairs, which originated during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125 AD), are a part of celebrating the arrival of spring, and so, have evolved into part of the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. Now let’s go to the temple fairs in Beijing during the Spring Festival this year, to have a close look.
Temple of the Earth Fair
Temple of the Earth is the site of the altar where sacrifices were formerly offered to the earthly god. Known as one of Beijing’s busiest and biggest temple fairs, the activities include colorful folk performances, fashion shows, antiques, handicrafts and a food street. Famous Chinese artists were invited to paint and write calligraphy works on the site.
Venue: Temple of the Earth, Andingmenwai Street
Dates: Feb. 9-16, 2013
Longtan Temple Fair
Longtan Temple Fair, which originated in 1984, featured a 300-strong parade this year. A stage was set up for Taekwondo and other martial arts champions to show their skills. A photo exhibition was also held, reviewing the temple fair’s history. If you were there, you may have a chance to compete with the Chinese chess masters.
Venue: Longtan Park, 8 Longtan Rd, Dongcheng District
Dates: Feb. 9-16, 2013
Lianhuachi Temple Fair
Lianhuachi (Lotus Pond) Park Temple Fair is rather traditional, with more than 100 activities staged for people to enjoy the traditional folk arts and snacks. Singing, dancing, local operas, acrobatics and a flower fair caught people’s eye.
Venue: Lianhuachi Park, 48 Lianhuachi Road, Fengtai District
Dates: Feb. 9-15, 2013
Beijing Grand View Garden Temple Fair
The Grand View Garden, located in the Xicheng District, is reminiscent of a luxurious garden of Ming and Qing style. In the Chinese classic “Dream of Red Mansions”, the garden is recount as the mansion of Jia Family – an official nobility of the Ming period. The garden holds the Red Mansion Temple Fair, where tourists can enjoy culture performances, fork culture performances and traditional snacks. Activities held here feature the Honglou (Red Mansion) culture style. The performances include ‘The Imperial Concubine Yuan Visiting Home” and “Wedding of Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyue”, which have been highly acclaimed by many tourists interested in the glittering culture of ancient China. Royal cuisine and delicate snacks are also available.
Venue: Beijing Grand View Garden, 12 Nancaiyuan Street, Xicheng District
Dates: Feb.10-14, 2013
Yuanmingyuan Temple Fair
This temple fair is well-known for its strong “imperial” flavor. Activities include skating and football on ice, as well as wrestling, a lantern exhibition, folk fair and operas. The ice shows, which date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was re-staged here, with professionals invited to perform acrobatics and figure skating on the ice to help visitors experience the grand scenes and customs of the royal family during the Spring Festival.
Venue: Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfect Splendor), 28 Qinghua West Rd, Haidian District
Dates: Feb.10-16, 2013
Taoranting (Chandian) Temple Fair
The Taoranting temple fair, one of the oldest in Beijing, is an extremely popular outing for Beijingers as well as for foreigners in Beijing during the Chinese Lunar New Year. People can buy and sell paintings and calligraphic works, antiques, toys and various food products here. The acrobatics, magic shows, operas, cross-talks, lion dance, stilt dance, Dancing God of Fortune and folk wedding performances, are all very popular.
Venue: Taoranting Park, 19 Taiping Jie, Xicheng District
Dates: Feb.9-14, 2013
Beijing Chaoyang International Spring Carnival
This international temple fair features foreign flavors, such as landscapes, decorations, music and performances. The fair entertains visitors with dance troupes from various countries, including Holland, the UK, France and Russia. Embassy representatives introduce their country’s customs, while various international dishes satisfy your appetite.
Venue: Chaoyang Park, 1 Chaoyang Gongyuan South Road, Chaoyang District
Dates: Feb.10-15, 2013
Dongyue Temple Fair
The temple, originally built in 1319, houses the Beijing Folk Customs Museum. Being the host to one of Beijing’s most traditional temple fairs, it features a wide range of folk customs and activities, including drum troops, Chinese opera, acrobatics and cross-talk shows. The theme of the fair is praying for good fortune in the New Year. Folk performances include the yangge, stilts, fish dance, and diabolo. You can also buy clay, dough figurines and paper cuttings.
Venue: Dongyue Temple, 141 Chaoyangmenwai Street
Dates: Feb.10-15, 2013
Shijingshan Amusement Park Temple Fair
The temple fair, launched in 2001, features a combination of Chinese and “Laowai” elements, making it a fun for people to enjoy the traditional and the new. The flower parade this year is themed the “Dancing Snake”. A digital entertainment zone is also set up for visitors. A total of more than 70 classical festivities were put on the stage.
Venue: Shijingshan Amusement Park, 25 Shijingshan Road, Shijingshan District
Dates: Feb.10-16, 2013
Beijing International Sculpture Park Temple Fair
The temple fair features folk singing and dancing performances, exhibition of local specialties, delicious snacks and a diverse array of entertainment.
Venue: Beijing International Sculpture Park
Dates: Feb. 10-16, 2013
Summer Palace Suzhou Market Street Fair
This is another temple fair with strong royal flavor in Beijing, featuring folk performances, acrobatics and Peking Opera. The street and surrounding buildings are decorated in the Qing style, with all staff dressed in Qing costumes. Visitors might find themselves travelling into the past.
Venue: 19 Xin Jiangongmen Lu, Haidian District
Dates: Feb.10-24, 2013
Temple of Heaven Cultural Week
The Heaven Worship Guard of Honor as well as music and dancing performances are the most important parts of the Temple of Heaven Cultural Week. The fair re-enacts the grandeur of ancient Chinese emperors worshipping heaven. Hundreds of actors dress up as the emperor, officials and imperial bodyguards and perform a series of worship traditions.
Venue: Temple of the Heaven Park, Tiantan Road, Dongcheng District
Dates: Feb. 10-14, 2013
Hongluo Temple Fair
Many visitors make pilgrimages here to experience the temple’s profound sense of Buddhist culture and enjoy the beauty of the ancient architecture. The temple’s abbot held prayer meetings and gave benedictions for visitors during the Spring Festival. People can also enjoy the Acrobatics from Cangzhou city of Hebei Province, hometown to Chinese acrobatics.
Venue: Hongluo Temple, 2 Hongluo East Road, Huairou District
Dates: Feb. 10-15, 2013