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Beijing Cultural Calendar | 10 Unmissable Spring Events
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Beijing Cultural Calendar | 10 Unmissable Spring Events

Picture of James Norman
Updated: 9 February 2017
This spring, China’s ‘northern capital’ offers a busy schedule of must-see exhibitions, tantalising food festivals, music events and eye-opening trips. Combined with Beijing’s world-class dining scene and cutting-edge art spaces, this makes for an endless range of cultural and culinary activities on offer in the bustling metropolis. We take a look at the best art, food and culture events in Beijing this spring, from April to June, and pick out ten of our favourite things to do.
The Great Wall of China | © James Norman
The Great Wall of China | © James Norman

National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Opera Festival

14 March – 16 July

Open since December 2007, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) is a futuristic shy egg-shaped structure that wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction film. A modern masterpiece consisting of metal, glass and cleverly used water, performances here are an interesting experience. They include sophisticated national and international orchestras, sensational shows, and traditional Chinese theatre. During this year’s opera festival, audiences can enjoy Verdi’s Nabucco and Il Travatore, among others.

National Centre for the Performing Arts, No.2 West Chang’an Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 6655 0000

Korean Food Festival

15 – 30 April

An event for foodies, the Korean Food Festival will work with host Cafe Noir to create and showcase the finest Korean cuisine. Mouthwatering delicacies being highlighted by the specialist chefs include kimchi marbled meat, naengmyeon, sumptuous sujeonggwa and tasty jujube tea. For part of the festival, visitors will also be able to take part in a cooking class with the renowned Korean chef, Ms. Kim Seungsuk. Cafe Noir is housed within the Traders Upper East Hotel and serves truly global cuisine; all diners at the restaurant are free to join in with the Korean Food Festival.

Cafe Noir, 2 Dongsihuan Beilu, North East 4th Ring Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 5907 8888

Beethoven Cycle, Sheng Yuan Piano Concert

18 April

The beautiful Forbidden City Concert Hall has been reconstructed to act as a vital part of Beijing’s cultural scene, cementing the city’s status as a modern cultural hub on the world stage. The renowned Chinese concert pianist Sheng Yuan will be performing Beethoven’s most treasured piano sonatas at the concert hall this April. Sheng Yuan has captivated audiences the world over with his accomplished and moving piano performances. A music enthusiast since the age of five, he studied at the Manhattan School of Music in New York under the tutelage of Solomon Mikowsky, and developed an ongoing passion for the music of Bach which he wishes to share with others through the joy of his music.

Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall, Zhongshan Park, Xicheng District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 6559 8285

The Forbidden City | © James Norman
The Forbidden City | © James Norman

Beijing Botanical Garden Tour with the Chinese Language Education School

18 – 19 April

The Chinese Language Education School (CLE) is organising an exciting tour through Beijing’s beautiful botanical garden. The Beijing Botanical Garden was built in 1956 and lies at the base of Beijing’s West Hill and proudly sits as northern China’s biggest botanical garden. The garden, broken down into a selection of smaller gardens and pavilions, is home to over 6,000 varieties of exotic, rare and endangered plants and attracts a large number of visitors each year. Visitors have an opportunity to learn more about the plants that grow there, and the discipline of botany in general.

Beijing Botanical Garden, Xiangshan South Road, Haidan, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 8259 8771, CLE: +86 10 5869 5800

Cuan Dixia Village Tour

20 April

For those seeking a unique insight into the days of China past, then this day trip is an unmissable opportunity. The China Culture Center (CCC) is leading a trip to visit the historical Cuan Dixia Village which is a hidden gem located in the mountains of Beijing’s Mentougou District. This village is still a snapshot of traditional, yet everyday Chinese culture, where intricately beautiful courtyard houses have survived since their creation in the days of the Ming and Qing royal Dynasties. The village fits effortlessly into the landscape and is broken into Upper and Lower areas making it even more beautiful; unique to Beijing, it’s considered a National Village Architecture Reserve. Lunch will be delicious home cooked, traditionally prepared in the house of a local villager. The breathtaking views and interesting story behind why the village escaped demolition make this trip an exciting, educational excursion.

China Culture Center, Maple Drive-in Cinema Park, No. 21, Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 6432 9341

The Winter Palace | © James Norman
The Winter Palace | © James Norman

Swan Lake by the Russian State Ballet

21 – 26 April

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is one of the world’s most treasured and well-known ballet performances. The magical Russian story follows the tale of Odette over the course of several acts, a princess who was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. This much-loved play was first performed by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March 1877 and still enthralls audiences today. This April, the famous Russian State Ballet will be performing Swan Lake to captivated audiences in Beijing at the Beijing Poly Theatre. As one of the world’s leading ballet companies, viewers will enjoy a feast for the eyes watching the graceful and exquisite movements performed by the Russian State Ballet.

Beijing Poly Theatre, 14 Dongzhimen South Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 6500 1188

The Last Moose of Aoluguya Film Screening

23 April

Hosted in the intriguing old-style Chinese Houhai bar, Zajia, this moving film screening with English subtitles will give guests a moving insight into a fading way of Chinese life. Zajia has traditional wooden benches and floors, with a modern selection of beverages. The film itself is the labour of love of award-winning film maker, Gu Tao, who spent several years of his life learning the culture of one of China’s ethnic minorities, the Ewenkis in the north-east of the country. The emotional film follows the life of one of the Ewenekis whose life changed for the worse following a hunting ban. A ‘portrait of a drunkard’, The Last Moose of Aoluguya is an unmissable look at the less glossy side of modern China.

Zajia, Jiugulou Dajie, Hong En Taoist Temple, 23 Doufuchi Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 8404 9141

German Language Literature Night

29 April

For literature fans, this evening will be an entertaining introduction to German literature. The event will be held at the Beijing Bookworm, a bustling bookshop where visitors can browse, read, sip tea or coffee and eat a tasty meal, while enjoying different shows and events. The German Language Literature Night is being hosted by the Austrian Culture Forum, the Goethe Institute and the Embassy of Switzerland, with work from authors representing each of the countries being shown. After an introduction to German literature and language, there will be German readings to listen to. (N.b. – The event will be in German with Chinese translation – no English.)

Beijing Bookworm, 4 Sanlitun Nan Lu/Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 6586 9507

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) Spring/Summer Exhibitions


The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) centre of Beijing culture is a non-profit, independent arts building located in Beijing’s Art District, 798. Founded by Belgian collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens in 2007, the centre displays and promotes the work of Chinese and international artists. Unmissable collections this spring/summer include works from Dutch and Polish artists. Hans van Dijk was a curator, scholar and dealer based in Beijing. The Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names collection includes personal letters, photographs, archives and records from his illustrious career, and the exhibition looks at the artists he supported during the 1990s. The second exhibition that shouldn’t be missed is the first Chinese showing of the works of contemporary Polish artist Paweł Althamer. Predominantly showcasing two standout pieces, The Venetians and The Draftsmen’s Congress, the exhibition is an intimate look at the artist, where visitors are encouraged to contribute to the walls and floor of the exhibition by drawing their own artwork on the free spaces.

UCCA, 798 Dashanzi Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, PR China, +86 10 5780 0200

Great Wall Music Festival

1 June

One of the most exciting music festivals in China, the Great Wall Music Festival celebrates with some of the world’s finest party music, at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China. This section is sometimes known as the Juyong Pass, which includes Nan to the south, and Badaling to the north. Juyongguan is home to the Cloud Platform gate built in 1342, but the name was first used during the era when the wall was originally constructed, under the rule of Emperor Qinshihuang. This year’s musical event begins just after lunchtime and the partying continues until around 10 p.m. The 2014 event is being headlined by world-famous Dutch DJ and producer, Armin van Buuren, so tickets will be in great demand.

Beijing Great Wall Juyongguan, 216 Provincial Road, Changping, Beijing, PR China

By James Norman