Also known as International Worker’s Day, Labour Day marks the contribution of regular workers to the country. Spread over three days, it’s a popular time for people to go on a short holiday to one of China’s tourist destinations or to return home to visit family – as such public transport tends to be more crowded than usual. Make sure you’re in Beijing a couple of days before and be prepared to stay put for a few days. The run-up to the festival sees sales and special offers in the capital’s shops (and indeed across the country, with bargains to be had on electronics, clothing and homewares. It’s the perfect excuse for some souvenir shopping.
Of course, it’s a public holiday, so there’s more to it than shopping. The Chinese government made it official in 1949 and it’s eagerly anticipated each year. Plenty of activities and events are staged in Beijing, whose streets and squares are adorned with flowers for the occasion. Street theatre is a common sight and concerts featuring bands and live DJs entertain the crowds. Though Tiananmen Square is a focal point, parades of colourful floats and marching bands process through many of Beijing’s streets and there’s also a flag-raising ceremony.