The problem in Shanghai is that there are only 365 days a year to cram so much culture and vibrant happenings into. The typical year has so many attractions you’ll perhaps want to just move here and base yourself here to take it all in. Get out your calendar and mark these dates now.
February: Lantern Festival
Forget notions of little hand-held lanterns gaily lit. This festival features multi-storey masterpieces of Chinese mythology and characters and scenes from folklore. A stunning parade through the YuYuan Gardens. Not for claustrophobes through – something like 300,000 visitors passing through the gates.
March: Shanghai International Literary Festival
A rather intimate but interesting affair, bringing authors, poets, artists and enthusiastic audiences together each March. Unlike bigger festivals you can get up close and personal with the creators of fiction, non-fiction, journalism, kid’s books and poetry.
April: Shanghai Fashion Week
April each year sees Xin Tian Di come to life with super models and super outfits paraded down the runways. Local big names and names-to-be strut their stuff. Downside: it’s invitation only. Upside: it’s China so there’s usually scalpers outside who can fix you a ticket.
April: F1 Chinese Grand Prix
The International Circuit is now the permanent home for this sparkling and speedy event. Zoom, zoom, zoom … the roar of the engines against this stunning backdrop of the city make it a special event in the global racing calendar.
April / May: Shanghai Strawberry Festival
No, put away the basket, this has got nothing to do with picking fruits. Instead it’s a 3-day 5-stage festival that shakes up the town with acts like Prodigy previously headlining. A great chance to feel Chinese youth at play in their element.
May: Shanghai Beer Week
Yes, it’s a thing! “Celebrating Better Beer” is what it’s all about, and brewmeisters from all over China gather to put their best foam forward, including some craft cider makers. China has a proud brewing history, first learned from the Germans in Tsingtao of course.
June: Shanghai International Film Festival
Usually held mid-June, SIFF has been running over 20 years and has become one of the biggest in NE Asia (on a par with Tokyo). It dishes out Golden Goblets to worthy up-and-coming breaking local and international recipients, with Hollywood stars/directors adding sparkle.
September: Shanghai Tourism Festival
One of the biggest public parades, this draws millions of spectators, lining the 2.2km route along HuaiHai Road. Dance troupes, colourful national cultural costumes, lively anthems all add up to a spectacular flowing parade and sea of humanity at the opening ceremony.
September: Shanghai Wine and Dine Festival
The lipsmackingly largest food and wine festival in China. It’s all here: quality food, imported wines, multicultural experiences. With China an increasingly important global market, wine is very central to the experience, with many national pavilions featuring food pairing master classes.
October: Shanghai Rolex Masters
The tennis world is usually divided between 2 camps: Federer or Djokovic. Which camp are you in? All the big names descend on Shanghai to duke it out over a week in October. The stadium setting amid 80-hectares of forest is stunning, especially at night.