Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in Beijing. Starting January 23rd, 2012, expect the city to look like a war zone. Fireworks will be going off in every corner of the capital, with explosions rocking the ground for around fifteen days. Starting the 23rd (officially at midnight though people start around 5pm) folks around Asia will be setting off fireworks to scare off ghosts and daemons for the year. The more you explode, the better your fortune for the coming year. Thus, every business and decently wealthy citizen will blow a month’s salary on fireworks to ensure their good fortune continues. Even those who count their cash and work hard for minimum wage will be blowing their wallets on explosives.
The rumors about Chinese New Year are true, fireworks will explode under your cab, on top of the cab’s hood, on the windshield, everywhere. It’s dangerous to walk down the street on the 23rd without your arms up to guard your eyes. Some of the best places to go for the night’s festivities include Houhai Lake, where you can watch everyone blow stuff up around the edges or out on the ice (yiikes). Or head to the CBD, the Central Business District, and scale one of the skyscrapers to watch the fireworks from safety and with excellent cocktails. Atmosphere is an especially wonderful club for this, or Xiu’s gorgeous outdoor terrace area. Both are small, and although you can’t book in advance you’ll have to show up early if you plan on even securing standing room.
Happy Year of the Dragon!