Dance, Theater, and Music
"Slick and loud acrobatic show with the biggest stage, which allows for impressive stunts."—Nancy Pellegrini, classical/performance editor, Time Out Beijing. Acrobats in vivid clothing use bicycles, seesaws, swings, silk ropes, and barrels to perform amazing feats of nerve and balance. Nightly show. 36 Dongshanhuan Beilu; tel. 86 10 6507 2421.
Forbidden City Concert Hall
"An aesthetic and acoustical triumph for China."—Nancy Pellegrini. Solo and orchestral performances by local and visiting musicians. Tip: Savor the park grounds before the concert and during intermission. Tickets vary. Xichangan Jie, within Zhongshan Park; tel. 86 10 6559 8285.
The Red Theatre
Flashy martial arts show with Vegas-style special effects: fogs, lights, neon, and magic. Tickets from $25. 44 Xingfu Dajie; tel. 86 10 6710 3671.
Tianqiao Acrobatic Theatre
"Refreshingly creative takes on acrobatic standards, by performers young enough to have a stage innocence that the more jaded acrobats lack."—Nancy Pellegrini. Contortions are part of the fun. Tickets from $12. 95 Tianqiao Market; tel. 86 10 6303 7449.
"Punk-ska bar on the grounds of a drive-in movie theater."—Matt Gross, Frugal Traveler, New York Times. Listen to local bands from the vast lawn. Ian Sherman, of Time Out Beijing, calls 2Kolegas a "fixture on the underground circuit." No cover. 21 Liangmaqiao Lu; tel. 86 10 8196 4820.
"A packed-to-the-rafters haven for pretty young things ready to groove to commercial chart hits or chill out on the spacious terrace. Weekly events include the popular quiz night."—Ross Goulding, nightlife editor, Time Out Beijing. No cover charge. Tongli Studio, 4th floor, Sanlitun Beilu; tel. 86 10 6416 7567.
"China's unstoppable club juggernaut has spawned imitators aplenty, with frequent visits by international DJs."—Ross Goulding. Multi-tiered nightclub is one of the most exciting—and most consistently packed—along Sanlitun Lu ("bar street"). Butlers and karaoke available in private rooms. 6 Gongti Xilu; tel. 86 10 6551 9081.
"A concrete bunker that looks fabulous and sounds even better."—Ian Sherman, music editor, Time Out Beijing. New, mid-sized venue in gutted movie theater, which means great views of the stage for most audience members. Bands run the gamut from highly tuneful to highly noisy. 111 Gulou Dongdajie; tel. 86 10 6402 5080.
Press Club Bar
All class, with marble fireplace, leather club seats, light hors d'oeuvres, expertly mixed martinis, and jazz piano. St. Regis Hotel, 21 Jianguomenwai Dajie; tel. 86 10 6460 6688.
Stone Boat Café
"A great place to get a drink any time of day."—Leon Lee, former managing editor, That's Beijing. Peaceful atmosphere on a stone pavilion overlooking a lake, ducks, and trees in Ritan Park, near the Sanlitun Embassy District; also serves bar food. Southwest corner of Ritan Park; tel. 86 10 6501 9986.
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival
First day of the lunar new year, generally late January or February. Chinese New Year is commemorated with business closures (up to three days), private feasts, and (illegal) firecrackers that can feel too close for comfort.
Late April-late May. A relatively new event, Factory 798's annual arts festival offers gallery receptions, art openings, music, dance, and theater performances, as well as lectures and panels. Tip: Bring a flashlight for evening visits; the alleys are often unlit.
Midi Music Festival
Early May. Beijing's burgeoning rock scene draws avant-garde musicians from around the world to Haidian Park. Marvelous for people-watching. Tip: Bring a beach towel or lawn chair.
Dragon Boat Festival
Fifth day of the fifth moon, generally May or June. Dragon boat racing and zhong zhi—sticky rice treats in bamboo leaves—are the remaining vestiges of this national holiday harking back to imperial China.
Fifteenth day of eighth moon, generally August or September. What's an occasion in China that doesn't involve food? This one entails yue bing— "mooncake"— pastries filled with your choice of black bean paste, dates, lotus seeds, salted eggs, and more.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
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