Celebrating Summer Solstice at Fragrant Hills Park in Beijing!

June 21st was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and in the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the solar term 夏至 Xiàzhì. On the evening of the solstice, Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchange Center hosted an elegant event at Fragrant Hills Park for members of Beijing’s diplomatic and cultural communities, where attendees got to experience performances, arts and crafts and food with a summer solstice theme.

Read on to see photos from the event and learn more about it!

The event was organised not only as a way to build relationships with the international community, but also as a celebration of this important solar term. Attendees were invited to walk around the park after it had closed to the public in the late afternoon and then enjoy summer and dragon boat festival-themed activities, food and performances. The event was held at Zhiyuanzhai, the former administrative office of Emperor Qianlong, originally built in 1748. 

The evening started with a tour of the beautiful park

The theme of the event was the summer solstice and some of the other summer solar terms.


Attendees enjoyed various different performances and activities with a summer theme

There were several activities for us to take part in, like making fragrant sachets. These decorative little sachets contain herbs like mugwort and artemesia, traditionally believed to repel insects and illnesses that could be brought on by the heat. We also tried lotus tea, which isn’t really traditional as it’s only been drunk for a couple of hundred years, but is very attractive and tasty. You can make it yourself: just buy some lotus flowers (sold around Beijing in some supermarkets or from florist or street vendors), wash them well, fold the petals inward, leave to dry, then brew in a wide cup or bowl using water that’s just under boiling point (around 85-90 degrees) for 15 minutes. You’ll end up with a delicately flavoured, very beautiful tea!

Dried, folded lotus flowers ready to be brewed

How did you celebrate Summer Solstice? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts and insights on traditional Chinese culture! 

Photo Credits
– Cultural Keys

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