When I think of Chinese New Year, I think of dragons, firecrackers, and much excitement. Alas, it is not the case in Beijing during the holiday. There are no organized parades like you might imagine. We were also told that firecrackers and fireworks are illegal in Beijing because of the bad pollution so no one is allowed to set any off. We were disappointed to hear this.
Chinese New Year (also know as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) is a family holiday and people gather together to mark their birthdays. Everyone gets a year older at midnight. They eat dumplings and celebrate as a family. I guess it could be compared to Christmas: a family holiday.
There weren't as many decorations as I thought would be up for the New Year. There were a few red lanterns up and there was a definite festive mood in many vendors. They kept saying that because it was the New Year they would give a special price. I think they would give a "special price" if it was raining that day. Two weeks after the New Year there is a red latern festival and that is when most of the red laterns go up. Things do shut down early for New Year's Eve like the Silk Market which closes at 3PM.
Our New Year wasn't marked with much excitement. However, when the hour struck midnight the night sky filled with fireworks illegally set off. They went on for another 45 minutes popping all over the skyline in sporadic chaos. A wonder to see.
There are fairs held at a couple of temples. One is the Lamaist Yonghe Gong and the other is the Taoist Baiyunguan Si. We passed Ditan Park and there seemed to be some events going on as well. I have also heard that Longtan Park has a daytime fair as well.