There are seven Chinese national holidays celebrated each year.

Each public holiday has its own story, traditions and dates (of course), which I’ll share with you below.

But before I get into the detail, here’s a summary of all the Chinese holidays in 2024.

Chinese national holidays 2024

DateHolidayChinese name
Dec 30 – Jan 1New Year’s Day元旦 (Yuándàn)
Feb 10 – Feb 17Spring Festival春节 (Chūnjié)
Apr 4 – Apr 6Qingming Festival清明节 (Qīngmíngjié)
May 1 – May 5Labor Day劳动节 (Láodòngjié)
Jun 8 – Jun 10Dragon Boat Festival端午节 (Duānwǔjié)
Sep 15 – Sep 17Mid-Autumn Festival中秋节 (Zhōngqiūjié)
Oct 1 – Oct 7National Day国庆节 (Guóqìngjié)

Alright, let’s get into the nitty gritty!

1. New Year’s Day

new year's eve fireworks china

Fireworks typically start the year off in China. Image by Sampajano_Anizza on Shutterstock.

  • Date: December 30, 2023 to January 1, 2024
  • Chinese name: 元旦 (Yuándàn)

The first holiday of the year probably needs no explanation, but here I go just in case.

New Year’s Day is celebrated in most parts the world as it marks the start of the Gregorian calendar, and China is no exception.

Most businesses and schools in China have the day off. Restaurants and shops will usually remain open though.

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So, while it may not be the huge party you’re used to, it’s still possible to celebrate with a nice meal or a few drinks.

In larger cities, there are firework displays and many hotels host events to see in the New Year.

And in smaller cities, locals will let off firecrackers in any open space they can find!

2. Spring Festival

Chinese New Year red lanterns

Everything is decorated in red for the Lunar New Year. Image by Angela Roma on Pexels.

  • Date: February 10-17, 2024
  • Chinese name: 春节 (Chūnjié)

Without a doubt, this is the biggest celebration of the year for Chinese people.

The holiday is also known as Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year and all three terms are used interchangeably.

Spring Festival happens around the end of January or start of February, depending on the lunar calendar.

The holiday lasts a week and locals can expect to have this time off from work. Some companies give employees 10 days or even two weeks off!

In 2024, employers are also encouraged to give their staff an extra day off on February 9, which is Chinese New Year’s Eve.

During New Year, Chinese people travel across the country to be reunited with family. In fact, it’s considered to be the largest human migration on earth with over 400 million rail passengers traveling domestically.

This number has increased each year with the exception of 2020 and 2021 when the global pandemic had an impact on the amount of people traveling.

Directly before, during and immediately after Spring Festival, traveling in China can be incredibly difficult. Bus and train tickets sell out very quickly.

If you’re lucky enough to find a plane ticket, expect a steep price increase.

Aside from family reunions, this holiday is marked with big feasts and the giving of red money-filled envelopes.

I’ve actually created a list of fun facts about Chinese New Year if you want to find out more.

3. Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day is less macabre than it sounds. Image by GuoZhongHua on Shutterstock.

  • Date: April 4-6, 2024
  • Chinese name: 清明节 (Qīngmíngjié)

Qingming Festival is observed in early April.

The actual date depends on the Spring Equinox, and it marks the start of farming season and the planting of crops.

In Mandarin, ‘qing’ means clear and ‘ming’ means bright, hence the name of this Chinese holiday.

However, as the cleaning of tombs and family graves takes place during this time, the name ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’ has resonated in other countries.

In Chinese culture, ancestors play a huge role in guiding families and keeping them safe from a realm beyond this one.

As people begin to rejuvenate their land and crops, and as nature begins a new lifecycle, it only seems natural to take some time to honor, respect and appreciate the dead.

During this Chinese holiday, you’ll see family members gathered around tombs, fondly remembering their loved ones.

People typically bring fruit and snacks to graves as offerings to ancestors. Colorful flowers and decorations are also common sights.

But if you can’t get to an ancestral grave, it’s OK to simply spend the day relaxing (that’s what I do in China!).

Read more about Qingming Festival including the origins of the holiday.

4. Labor Day

Chinese workers

Chinese workers are celebrated on Labor Day. Image by Pixabay on Pexels.

  • Date: May 1-5, 2024
  • Chinese name: 劳动节 (Láodòngjié)

Sometimes referred to as May Day or even International Workers’ Day, this holiday celebrates the workers of China.

You might be thinking this holiday sounds a bit familiar, and you would be absolutely right. This public holiday actually originated in Europe in the late 1800s!

Labor Day has changed a lot in structure over the years. Time off has ranged from one day up to one week at points.

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Currently, workers in China can expect around three days off (but may have to work on the weekend – more on that below).

Of all the national Chinese holidays, May Day is probably the least special for most people.

5. Dragon Boat Festival

Sticky rice dumpling zongzi

The famous sticky rice dumpling eaten during Dragon Boat Festival. Image by Richmond Lee on Pixabay.

  • Date: June 8-10, 2024
  • Chinese name: 端午节 (Duānwǔjié)

This three-day Chinese festival has a really interesting story.

Dragon Boat Festival commemorates Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese poet and philosopher from the kingdom of Chu. He was born into a noble family and worked his way up through the political ranks, eventually becoming advisor to the king himself.

Qu Yuan proposed many societal reforms, which ultimately failed, and he was eventually exiled from the kingdom. Some versions of the tale suggest that noblemen fabricated stories of Qu Yuan, framing him in a negative light in order to anger the king.

When Qu Yuan’s home state of Chu was invaded, it’s said that he could not bear to live any longer and instead drowned himself in order to end his suffering.

Row boats were sent out to save him, but they were too late.

Zongzi (a traditional snack made of rice) were thrown into the water for the fish so that they would not feed on Qu Yuan’s body.

Now, each year, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people remember this great poet by taking part in dragon boat races and eating zongzi.

You can read the full story of Qu Yuan and Dragon Boat Festival here.

(If you prefer modern Chinese history over the ancient stuff, then you might like my article on China since 1949 right here.)

6. Mid-Autumn Festival

Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival

Tasty mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival. Image by Jason Goh on Pixabay.

  • Date: September 15-17, 2024
  • Chinese name: 中秋节 (Zhōngqiūjié)

Also known as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, this is another holiday with an interesting tale behind it.

Celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month of the Chinese lunar calendar, this is the time of year when the moon is supposed to be at its biggest and brightest. Local people will constantly and excitedly remind you to look at the full moon around this period.

This is the second biggest holiday in China, after Spring Festival. I suppose you can somewhat view this event like a Chinese Thanksgiving because it’s most definitely a time for family feasts.

Mooncakes are a staple for this holiday. They’re calorific Chinese pastries usually round or square in shape (which I love, by the way).

If you enjoy cooking, here’s a simple recipe to make your own mooncakes.

During my time in China, I’ve heard a few variations of the love story upon which this festival is built. The abridged version involves a man, Hou Yi, worshipping the moon, a place to which his wife, Chang’e, had been sent to for eternity after saving the world from evil.

I’ve written more about this story and Mid-Autumn Festival here.

7. National Day

national day china

National Day is about national identity and pride. Image by Vinap on Shutterstock.

  • Date: October 1-7, 2024
  • Chinese name: 国庆节 (Guóqìngjié)

The final holiday of the year is another long one of around seven days. This one also goes by the name of Golden Week and is all to do with, you guessed it, national pride.

This celebration has fixed dates in October. It features many Chinese government military parades to showcase the country’s strength and resilience.

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National Day itself is October 1st as this was the day in 1949 that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was officially formed. Tiananmen Square in Beijing is the nucleus of this celebration with a three-minute-long flag raising ceremony which attracts thousands of people.

Cities across the country will hold firework displays, light shows and, in more recent times, drone shows which are pretty spectacular to witness.

Domestic Chinese tourists come out in throngs for this holiday so you can expect busy tourist attractions all week long.

How Chinese holidays really work

Tiananment Square Beijing

Chinese public holidays aren’t as long as they seem. Image by Markus Winkler on Pixabay.

It does seem like Chinese people enjoy a lot of days off, but unfortunately I’m about to burst your bubble.

Some national Chinese holidays aren’t as long as they sound as they involve what’s known as ‘makeup days’.

For example, let’s say you’re celebrating National Day.

In theory, you have seven days off. However, to make up for having some time off, you might have to work on the weekend before or after the holiday. So, you may only get three working days off.

The arrangement can differ depending on the employer and even the industry you work in.

Nonsensical? Perhaps. Do you get used to it? After a while, yes, because you have to.

This website lays out the weekends that locals are expected to work to make up some of the lost time.

Other special days in China

Chinese navy officers

Military personnel get the day off on Armed Forces Day. Image by David Mark on Pixabay.

International Women’s Day (March 8) – most female workers get a half-day holiday. Many companies will arrange flowers or small gifts for female employees.

Youth Day (May 4) – commemorates the student-led May Fourth Movement of 1919. Youths aged 14-28 get half a day off.

International Children’s Day (June 1) – some schools give children under 14 a day off. Many attractions such as theme parks will offer discounted or free entry on this day. Local governments may also organize parades or special activities.

Armed Forces Day (August 1) – celebrates the founding of The People’s Liberation Army of the PRC on this day in 1927. Also known as Army Day, military personnel enjoy half a day off.

Do Chinese celebrate Christmas?

Some people do, especially in the big cities.

They go shopping and look at the Christmas decorations and lights. However, Christmas isn’t a public holiday in China (but it is in Hong Kong).

You can read more about how the Chinese celebrate Christmas as well as some crazy Chinese Christmas traditions.

Do Chinese celebrate Valentine’s Day?

They sure do! There are five special days for couples, and even one for singles. But none are public holidays.

Each day is celebrated in different ways and has a different story. Qixi Festival is the ultimate Chinese Valentine’s Day as it has the most romantic tale behind it.

Psst! A quick travel tip

Are you visiting China soon? If so, remember that the internet is censored when using Wi-Fi in your hotel.

So, to access all your favorite websites and apps (like Facebook, Instagram, Google, Gmail, WhatsApp, etc), you’ll need to get a VPN.

Find out and buy the best VPN for China before you fly over or tap on the one below I recommend most:

Just remember to download it before you arrive. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck!

Plan your trip around Chinese holidays

If you’re planning a trip to China, try to avoid traveling during the public holidays.

This is especially the case for the longer holidays, Chinese New Year and Golden Week, when domestic travel can get quite hectic. Prices for accommodation may also be higher during these periods.

But if your vacation dates are fixed, try to go with the flow and stay out of crowded areas. You’ll definitely have some stories to share when you get home.

And don’t forget your VPN!

I hope you liked my article about national Chinese holidays. You might also like the article about famous Chinese people – how many do you know?

Main image credit: Angela Roma on Pexels. Public holiday dates courtesy of The State Council of the People’s Republic of China website.

FAQ about Chinese national holidays

How many public holidays are there in China?

There are seven official public holidays in mainland China, each with a different duration.

How long is Chinese New Year?

Chinese people generally get about a week off work, while some employers give even more time off.

Is Lantern Festival a public holiday in China?

No, it just marks the end of Spring Festival, about a fortnight after it starts.

What is the most important Chinese holiday?

It’s definitely Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) followed by Mid-Autumn and National Day.