Where to celebrate Christmas in Beijing and Tianjin

With a growing number of Chinese people becoming obsessed with Christmas, foreigners can find it easier to indulge in a variety of festivities to mark the traditional Western holiday in this culturally heterogeneous country.

As this year's Christmas is around the corner, the sino-us.com, with a mission to serve China's expat community, is introducing some must-visit places in Beijing and Tianjin, a neighboring city of the capital, to our foreign readers who plan to stay in China during the festival.

Excitement at Happy Valley (北京欢乐谷)

Happy Valley in Beijing Photo: Nipic.com

Happy Valley is a Disneyland-like theme park located in eastern Beijing. The theme park is now made up of seven themed zones, including Happy Time, Wild Fjord, Atlantis, Aegean Harbor, Lost Maya, Shangri-La and Ant Kingdom, with each zone characterized by its own typical entertainment facilities to satisfy your desire for fun.

The theme park is now holding the 9th Snow and Ice Festival (冰雪狂欢节), where cartoon characters, snowmen, carnival floats entertain the visitors. The festival, which will last till January 4, 2015, also features all kinds of music performances and stunt shows.

Tranquility at churches

Despite governed by atheistic Communist Party, China allows freedom of religious belief. On the Christmas Eve, churches in Beijing will hold religious activities and bell-ringing ceremony, with some churches organizing short plays to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Among Beijing's eleven churches (six Catholic and five Christian), three are the most visited because of their history, scale and popularity.

The Beijing Diocese Xuanwumen Catholic Church (北京教区宣武门天主教堂), also known as the Southern Church (南堂), was founded in 1605 by Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci as a chapel, and was expanded in 1650 by German Jesuit missionary Johann Adam Schall von Bell. It is the oldest Catholic church in Beijing and is often visited by foreign dignitaries.

The Xishiku Catholic Church (西什库天主教堂), also known as the Northern Church (北堂), is the largest Catholic church in Beijing. Originally established by the Jesuits in 1703 near Zhongnanhai, the Xishiku Catholic Church was rebuilt in 1887 at its current location, Xishiku. The church features Gothic architecture and stands in a spacious square surrounded by two Chinese-style pavilions.

The St. Joseph's Catholic Church on the Wangfujing commercial pedestrian street Photo: Nipic.com

The St. Joseph's Catholic Church (圣约瑟夫天主教堂), also known as the Eastern Church (东堂) or the Wangfujing Church (王府井教堂), is the most popular church in Beijing, because it is located on the famous Wangfujing commercial pedestrian street. The construction of the church was finished in 1655 by Jesuit missionaries. Due to earthquakes and wars, the church was rebuilt in 1904, adopting Romanesque Revival architecture.

Dining and wining in Sanlitun area (三里屯)

Situated near an embassy area in Beijing's Chaoyang District, Sanlitun has become a popular destination for both young Chinese and foreigners, as it is brimming with a host of exotic pubs and upscale restaurants.

A bar in Sanlitun area Photo: Blog.sina.com.cn

On the occasion of Christmas, some bars and restaurants in Sanlitun area have started offering special promotions to attract general customers. Eating and drinking to your heart's satisfaction with your friends at a Sanlitun bar or restaurant sounds a good option for your Christmas revelry. More importantly, you are likely to make new friends and expand your business networking in the most fashionable community of Beijing, which brings all kinds of people together.

Stroll in Houhai area (后海)

Different from Sanlitun typifying the modern element of Beijing, Houhai area is a combo of modernity and tradition, as it centers around the Houhai Lake, or the Shichahai Lake (什刹海), which is encircled by many low houses with Chinese architectural style that serve as bars, coffee shops and restaurants.

Houhai area Photo: Nipic.com

Houhai area is extremely popular with young Chinese and foreign tourists visiting Beijing, because it has many old-time alleyways, historic attractions and former residences of celebrities, such as the Drum Tower (鼓楼), the Former Residence of Soong Ching-ling (宋庆龄故居) and Prince Gong Mansion (恭王府).

Riding a rickshaw or strolling around the Houhai Lake and its neighborhood on the Christmas Eve will make you experience a totally different side of Beijing's nightlife.

European Christmas Town for homesick foreigners

If you feel nostalgic on Christmas, the European Christmas Town (天津欧洲圣诞主题乐园) in Tianjin, which is 120 kilometers southeast of Beijing, should be your second-to-none destination, where the hidden European castles, brightly lit Christmas trees decorated with pots, ornaments and gifts, small wooden houses equipped with burning fireplaces and smiling Santa Clauses will be created by a team of designers who have travelled to Europe many times.

Designers will create the effect of polar light by means of fluorescence quantum technology in the European Christmas Town in Tianjin. Photo: Bitauto.com

The team will build a replica of a European town in the European Christmas Town and create the effect of polar light and a sky scattered with stars by means of fluorescence quantum technology.

The European Christmas Town will be open from December 12, 2014 to February 28, 2015.

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