Culture Events in Beijing – May 2023

While Cultural Keys can be considered your go-to for a variety of traditional Chinese culture activities, there are of course plenty of other fun and interesting cultural events happening around the capital every month!

Here’s our round-up of activities connected with Chinese culture and history for May in Beijing!

Please note: Cultural Keys is in no way affiliated with any of the events or organisations listed in this article, unless explicitly stated. We offer no guarantee about the quality of any third party events, and strongly suggest interested participants contact the relevant organizers to clarify event details before attending.

Exhibition: Gandhara Heritage along the Silk Road

Date: March 16th – June 15th 2023
Location: The National Palace Museum | 4 Jingshan Qianjie, Dongcheng District 北京故宫 | 北京市东城区景山前街4号
Time: April 1st – October 31st 8:30 AM- 17:00 PM Last Entry:16:10
November 1st – March 31st 8:30 AM – 16:30 PM Last Entry:15:40
Price: 80/120/280/380/480 RMB per person
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: Chinese and English

Gandhara was an ancient civilization centered in what is now north-west Pakistan and parts of south-east Afghanistan. It was a central location for the spread of Buddhism into China. Curators selected 203 artifacts for this exhibition, of which 173 come from seven museums in Pakistan and thirty from the Palace Museum. The exhibits demonstrate the artistic charm and development of Gandhara culture, and its far-reaching influence on China and East Asia.

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall  露营:古北口长城

Date: May 1st-2nd 2023
Location: Gubeikou Great Wall | 古北口长城
Time: 12:00 PM (departure)
Price: ¥1,690 / ¥1,520 for members / ¥1,200 for kids aged 7–18
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

On this easy camping trip you’ll show up fashionably late at the Great Wall and have a late lunch at a local guesthouse before a short hike up to the campsite in a Great Wall tower. We’ll have free time to explore the wall near the campsite as the sun drops down behind mountains, and after the sun sets we’ll settle in for the evening with snacks, marshmallows, and (hopefully) some stargazing. The next day, we’ll wake up early with coffee and a basic camp breakfast before a short hike out along the Great Wall, finishing with an early lunch at a village restaurant.

We’ll supply a tent, sleeping bag, and ground pad for you, as well as water, snacks, and a basic breakfast at the campsite. You’ll carry your own clothes and gear, and any extra snacks and drinks you might want to enjoy up on the wall. Maximum group size of 12 hikers; book early to make sure you get a spot!

Walk: 100 Years, 12 Visions: The Evolution of Modern Beijing
100年,12种愿景: 现代北京的演变

Date: May 2nd 2023
Location: Beijing City Planning Exhibition Hall | 100 meters from Qianmen Subway Station, Exit B 北京城市规划展览馆 | 距前门地铁站B出口100米
Time: 2:00PM – 4:30PM
Price: 300 RMB per person; 150 RMB/child
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

The Evolution of Modern Beijing is the story of how Beijing has developed over the last hundred years to become the city it is today. What was the city like under imperial rule? How did it change after the last dynasty collapsed? What did the decision to move the capital to Nanjing in 1928 mean for Beijing? How did the Japanese occupation impact the city? And how come it is so difficult to find a piece of Cultural Revolution architecture? Join us as we search for answers to these questions and more.

We start the walk at the Urban Exhibition Center, where from the impressive miniature models we will get an idea of what the city looks like today and what it looked like during the dynasties. To explore what came between then and now, we must venture into the hutongs. Walking through the narrow alleyways we will also discover the enormous changes that Beijing underwent following the communist liberation in 1949, when up through the 1950s Beijing was shaped like a “little Moscow”. Suddenly, for the first time in Beijing’s history, the city became an industrial center. Production was even moved in to the densely populated hutong districts, when the communist powers sought to change society through the capital’s working class. When we finally end the walk at the Beijing Postcards gallery, we will look at a display of original maps from our collection, tying together Beijing’s development from a walled enclosure to the city of ever-expanding ring roads that we know today.

Spring outing: May Holiday—Summer Palace — Hanfu—Photo Taking—Kites Flying—Outdoor Games—And More!

Date: May 4th 2023
Location: Summer Palace | No. 19, Xinjian Gongmen Road, Haidian District, Beijing 颐和园 | 北京市海淀区新建宫门路19号
Time: 6:00AM – 8:00PM
Price: 598 RMB per person
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English and Chinese

Amaze yourself, your family and your friends by coming to this spring outing in the most beautiful place in Beijing, Summer Palace. You and your family are able to put on traditional Chinese Hanfu and take photos in breathtaking surroundings. We prepared many outdoor games and Hanfu for kids too. Come and have fun.

Hiking: Silver Pagoda Loop

Date: May 6th 2023
Location: Silver Pagoda Loop | 银山塔林
Time: 8:00 PM (departure)
Price: ¥430 / ¥390 for members
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

Includes a post-hike lunch at a countryside restaurant. Follow a trail through the Changping countryside, passing villages, quarries, and a local shrine on the way to the Silver Pagodas, a set of five well-preserved 600-year-old pagodas that are all that remains of a big Buddhist temple.

Workshop: Chinese Calligraphy 工作室:书法

Join Cultural Keys on May 13th to write your own piece of calligraphy! In this workshop, you’ll learn the essential things to know about this ancient art form with an in-depth presentation. Then under the guidance of an expert calligrapher, you’ll practice some characters before learning to write an auspicious phrase that you can take home with you.

Date: May 13th 2023
Time: 3-6pm
Location: CK Culture Centre, Songzhuang, Tongzhou District
Places: Maximum 10 people per session
Payment: Prepayment via WeChat, AliPay, PayPal (no PayPal account required) or bank transfer. Fapiao available on request.
Price: Adults 288RMB; children (10+) 258RMB.
Language: English

Presentation: Bai Ta and the Observatory–Mongol or Chinese?

Date: May 17th 2023
Location: Online event
Time: 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM Beijing Standard Time (not 7.00PM)
Price: This event is free for RASBJ members; RMB 50 for members of partner RAS branches; RMB 100 for non-members. (Interested in becoming an RASBJ member? Please sign up at​)
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

The White Pagoda in Beihai Park Beijing, also known as Dagoba, and the Observatory in Dengfeng, Henan province are major monuments patronized by Khubilai Khan, both built in the year 1279. Both are often explained as foreign architecture that came to China as a result of Mongol rule. Nancy Steinhardt discusses the circumstances of construction and actual structures of the pagoda and observatory, showing that they are not as foreign as appears at first look, and as commonly supposed. If they in fact are Chinese architecture, did the Mongols have an impact on Chinese architecture and if so, what was it?

Temple of Heaven by Night Walking Tour  天坛夜游

Date: May 20th 2023
Location: North gate of Temple of Heaven | No.79 Tiantan Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing 天坛北门 | 北京市东城区天坛路79号
Time: 7:00PM – 9:30PM
Price: 300 RMB per person; 150 RMB/child
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

On the day before the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the emperor left his palace and traveled to the Temple of Heaven. Drawn by elephants and with a 3000 man strong entourage, the son of heaven left his nest deep inside the Forbidden City at this exact time every year to perform the most important ritual of the empire, a ceremony that revitalized his powers and reconfirmed his status as the son of heaven. After fasting and purifying himself, the next morning the emperor humbly walked some hundred meters to take his place in the middle of the white marble altar where heaven and earth meet. Here he reported to the sky what had occurred the last year in the empire and outlined his grand plans for the future, an obedient servant of heaven’s superiority.

The final leader to perform this ritual was the first president of China Yuan Shikai. It is quite telling that when he was scheming to abandon democracy and the republic to become an emperor in his own right in 1914 he chose this ritual as a way of supporting his claim to the throne. But heaven did not grant the little fat man an empire – instead he died in misery only a few years later.

Join us to explore the Temple of Heaven after dark. Illuminated at night, the altars are enhanced by an almost otherworldly beauty. Using a handheld projector we will display the history of the Temple, charting its path from a closed off Imperial altar ground to the beating heart of the city that it is today. We promise that the Temple of Heaven will reveal itself to you in a way you have never seen before.

Did we miss anything? What events are you planning to go to in May? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts and insights on traditional Chinese culture! 

Photo Credits
– The organisers

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