Cultural Events in Beijing – August 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 August 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: Ink Splendor and Cultural Context – Exhibition on Bada Shanren, Shi Tao and Chinese Xieyi Art Since the 20th Century  墨韵文脉——八大山人、石涛与20世纪以来中国写意艺术展

Date: May 23rd – November 15th 2023
Location: National Art Museum of China
Time: 9.00 – 17.00 (last entry 16.00)
Price: Free
Payment: Reservation required via WeChat mini-program: 中国美术馆
Language: Chinese and English

Part of the exhibition series in celebration of the 60th anniversary of NAMOC, this is a rare opportunity to see so many works by several seminal artists – including many by Qi Baishi – in one place. A special treat is the paintings of Bada Shanren, one of China’s most important artists. Born a prince, he became a monk and only started painting professionally in his sixties. His unique paintings reflect his eccentricity – some say madness – and this is an exhibition well worth seeing; in fact it has proved so popular that the original closing date of August 6th has been extended to November 15th!

Exhibition: Qianlong Jade  玉见乾隆—清代宫廷玉器展

Date: August 1st – September 1st 2023
Location: Poly Art Museum, 9th floor of Poly Plaza, No. 1 Chaoyangmen North Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing. 保利艺术博物馆 | 北京市东城区朝阳门北大街1号新保利大厦云楼9层
Time: Daily 9AM-17.00PM (closed on Mondays)
Price: Free; no reservation necessary
Language: Chinese & English

View over 100 exquisite imperial jades from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), including Qianlong’s imperial seal. 

The Warlords of Beijing: A Hutong Walk and Discussion  北京的军阀:胡同漫步与讨论

Date: August 5th 2023
Location: Duan Qirui Former Government Building | No.3 Zhangzizhong Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing 段祺瑞执政府旧址 | 北京市东城区张自忠路3号
Time: 15:00PM – 17:30PM
Price: 300 RMB (260 RMB for students, members of The Hutong, and members of the RASBJ) including all guide fees, admission tickets, and tips.
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

Step back into the Warlord Era and follow the footsteps of some of history’s most colorful personalities through the rough and tumble Peking of the nineteenth and early 20th century with our expertly curated walking tour led by historian and writer Dr. Jeremiah Jenne.

This journey will feature tales of power struggles, political shenanigans, loyalty, bravery, and sacrifice. We’ll talk about Yuan Shikai, the man who would be Emperor; Duan Qirui, the cunning warlord who weaved a web of intrigue; Feng Yuxiang, the “Christian General” who sought to modernize and unify China at any cost; and some famous non-warlord military figures like the courageous poet and statesman Wen Tianxiang who remained loyal to his ideals in the face of adversity and Senggelinqin, the fearless Mongolian prince who left his mark on Chinese military history.

Be transported back to a world of bravery, betrayal, and blind ambition. Combining meticulous research and infectious wit, Dr. Jenne will share captivating stories from the archives and little-known facts about these famous figures and other ruffians, rogues, heroes, and villains from the Warlord Era. Spaces are limited for this small-group exploration to minimize our impact on local communities and historic sites.

The Widow, the Eunuch, and the Last Emperor: A Lakeside Walk and Exploration  遗孀、太监和末代皇帝:湖畔漫步与探索

Date: August 6th 2023
Location: Jishuitan Metro Stop, Exit C 积水潭地铁站 C 出口 
Time: 10:00AM – 13:00PM
Price:300 RMB (260 RMB for members of The Hutong), including all guide fees and admission tickets.
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

The area around Beijing’s lake district and the hutong neighborhoods of Xicheng were once home to some of Beijing’s most famous faces. In this walk, we’ll explore the bustling waterways and less-traveled alleys west of the Drum Tower. Along the way, we’ll visit the home of Song Qingling, the widow of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who stayed behind when the rest of her family fled to Taiwan in 1949. We’ll also see the mansion where the Last Emperor was born and visit the Guanghua Temple, where China’s last eunuch Sun Yaoting lived the final years of his life. Along the way, we’ll also explore the history of some of Beijing’s byways and observe life in Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods.

Language: Tones & Tunes – Learn Chinese Through a Song

Date: August 16th 2023
Location: Online
Time: 7:00PM
Price: Free
Reservation required via WeChat (scan the QR code in the poster)
Language: English & Chinese

Do you enjoy listening to music? Did you ever dream of singing Chinese songs? If you answered YES, then this class is for you! In this lesson, you will learn the lyrics of a classic Chinese song, along with the pronunciation and meaning.

Temple of Heaven by Night Walking Tour  天坛夜游

Date: August 19th 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 – 10:00PM
Price: 300 RMB per person; 150 RMB per 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.

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. 

Workshop: Qixi Celebration

Date: August 19th 2023
Time: 2-5pm
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. Scan the QR on the poster for more information.
Price: Adults 388RMB.
Language: English

Join Cultural Keys on August 19th to celebrate Qixi, Chinese Valentine’s Day! At this festival celebration, you’ll learn about the history and customs of the festival. Then you’ll make qiaoguo (a type of sweet bread traditionally made on the festival) and while it bakes you’ll paint magpies under the guidance of an expert painter and listen to some Chinese love stories.

Walking Tour: Midnight in Peking Walking Tour  徒步之旅:北京徒步之旅的午夜

Date: August 26th 2023
Location: Beijing Railway Station 北京火车站
Time: 7:00PM – 10:00PM
Price: 450RMB per person
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

On January 8th 1937 the body of a young foreign girl, Pamela Werner, was found brutally mutilated at the foot of Beijing’s city wall. The murder shocked the foreign community in the capital and made headlines around the globe.

Based on the murder case we have created a walk that shows a largely unknown side of republican Beijing. At the center is the so-called Beijing Badlands, an area where white Russians and retired soldiers ran bars and brothels, catering to the respectable high society of the old Legation Quarter. We will piece together the background story of a crime committed during the anxiety-filled days where China was on the brink of war with Japan. From the hutong where Pamela lived with her father, to the allegedly haunted Fox Tower where the body was found.

All of this is possible because by a remarkable coincidence all of the main sites of the crime case still exist to this day.

The unsolved murder of Pamela Werner was largely forgotten till the author Paul French stumbled upon an unlabeled box of dusty yellow pages files at the British National Archives. The documents, mostly written by Pamela Werner’s father Edgar Chalmers Werner, inspired Paul French to write his novel Midnight in Peking that became an instant bestseller when it came out in 2011.

The walk ends at the Beijing Postcards gallery where we will serve 1930 style cocktails and present archival material related to the case, not least a 200 page long Chinese police report we’ve been able to obtain, that is not even mentioned in Paul French’s book.

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall  露营:古北口长城

Date: August 26th-27th 2023
Location: Gubeikou Great Wall | 古北口长城
Time: 12:00 AM (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!

Hiking: Huangyaguan Great Wall  徒步:黄崖关长城

Date: August 27th 2023
Location: Huangyaguan Great Wall | 黄崖关长城
Time: 8:00 AM (departure)
Price: ¥510 / ¥460 for members
Payment: Reservation required via online platform:
Language: English

We don’t often visit the Huangyaguan Great Wall because it’s so far away. But if you’ve already seen most of the Great Wall in Beijing, or would like to see a picturesque section that is not commonly visited as part of a trip to Beijing, it’s a good choice.

The Huangyaguan Great Wall is located in Tianjin, not too far over the Beijing-Tianjin border. It’s a repaired section that shows the Ming Dynasty style of Great Wall construction, with large towers connected by solid walls. You’ll also see some unique features – like an enormous round tower that isn’t connected to the main line of wall – as well as a fortress with a maze and a Great Wall museum.

Martial Arts: Chaoyang Park Tai Chi Class 朝阳公园 太极课

Date: Every Saturday 
Location: Chaoyang Park West Gate 3 (Zaoying Subway Exit A)
Time: 9-11am
Places: Unlimited
Price: 100RMB/class or 800RMB/10 classes
Payment: Add Eric (WeChat: sanfengtaiji) to sign up and pay

The class is instructed by English speaking Tai Chi master Eric Liu. In the class, you’ll not only learn the authentic tai chi through a simple step-by-step proven method, but also go much deeper than just learning the forms. He’ll assist you in understanding Yin Yang theory, Taoist philosophy and “Qi” (energy) through natural, gentle exercise. You will also learn basic methods of self massage to relieve pain and stress from daily life.

What traditional activities are you taking part in this month? 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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