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Things to do on The Silk Road

There are a list of top fun things such as traditional festivals & celebrations, tourist events & activities, entertainment & nightlife for travel choice.    

Xian Shaanxi
1. Zhuge Liang Memorial Temple Fair during the Spring Festival;
2. Changan International Chinese Calligraphy Annual Conference, the last week in March yearly;    
3. Xian Ancient Culture & Art Festval in September every year;
4. Xian City Wall International Marathon Friendly Match, the first sunday in November annually;    
5. Yanan Yangko Dance Festival during Chinese Lantern Festival each year;  
6. Yaowangshan Mountain Temple Fair from 2 to 21 in February each year;
7. Biking on the Xian City Wall;
8. Climbing the Huashan Mountain;

1. Gannan Shambhala Tourism Art Festival
Time: Mid August every year
Venue: Dangzhou Grassland in Hezou City, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous prefecture, Gansu Province
Introduction: According to the Tibetan Buddhism and folk Legends, "Shambhala" means a pure land on earth. Legend has it that it is a peaceful and quiet land where people and nature coexist in perfect harmony; people's soul can be purified and sublimed; and people are bathed in happy sunshine for generations. The Shambhala Tourism Art Festival is the Crystal of the Tibetan people's pursuit for happiness and peace, and their goodwill wish for the unity and harmony of the people of all the ethnic groups. There are Sgor-bro Dance, the showcase of Tibetan costumes, the performance of a train of 1,000 horses, and so on around Sanke Grassland, Labrang Monastery, Milarepa Buddhism Tower. Tourists may go to Lanzhou of Gansu Province by air, and then change a train or a long-distance bus to Gannan.

2. Sharang Festival
Time: The sixth month by the Tibetan Calendar
Venue: Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province
Introduction: In the Tibetan language, the Sharang Festival means “cutting firewood,” and the festival refers to a picnic when people cut firewood in the mountains. In the past, the lamas of the Labrang monastery in Xiahe went out to cut firewood in hot summer every year. As the mountains were far away from the Monastery, the lamas who could not return to the Monastery on the same day had to camp at the foot of the mountains or by the rivers. More often than mot, they had to live in the open area several days running. As time went by , it has become a traditional festival loved by the farmers and herdsmen nearby.
In the sixth month by the Tibetan calendar, the Tibetan people living in the cities, towns and countryside go one after another to the mountaintops or Sangke grasslands to pitch tents, cool in the open, drink wine and enjoy themselves for several days in succession. Some villages organize various activities in the month, such as singing and dancing, horse race, running race, wrestling, tug of war, a game of chess and other cultural activities. At night, young men and women would leave the tents and gather at the expanse of grassland near a river or a lake to sing love songs, express affections and looks for their lovers.

3. The Grand Summons Ceremony at the Labrang Monastery
Time: From the 4th to 17th day of the first month; the 29th day of the sixth month to 15th day of the seventh month on the Tibetan calendar.
Venue: Labrang Monastery in Xiahe County, Gansu Province
Introduction: First constructed in the 48th year (1709) of the Kangxi reign of the Qing Dynasty, the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe is the largest Tibetan Buddhist institution of higher learning beyond Tibet. Thanks to its large size, the monastery ranks first in the number of Tibetan Scriptures in all the Buddhist temples throughout the country. Every year, the Labrang Monastery holds seven largescale summins ceremonies, of which the Monlam Prayer Assembly in the first month and the Preaching Assembly in the seven month by the Tibetan calendar are the most magnificent. Buddhist believes from Gandu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia gather here to celebrate the annual festivals.

Various kinds of Buddhist services are held, such as displaying the images of Buddha, Performing the Dharma dance, chanting scriptures, Praying, holding the butter sculpture flower fair, organizing the examinations for minks and debates on Buddhist scriptures, and celebrating the one-month Langsam Festival for the Tibetan people around Labrang Monstery,Lhamo Monastery, Bharkor City, Daligyacui Co, Daerzong Co, Dajutan Grassland, and so on.

4. Tianshui Fuxi Culture Festival
Time: The 13th day of the fifth lunar month
Venue: Tianshui City, Gansu Province
Introduction: According to ancient Chinese legends, Fuxi, the first ancestor of mankind, made outstanding contributions to the Chinese civilization. Fuxi was said be the first man who taught folks to weave nets for hunting and fishing, decided the marriage system, created the calendar, invented musical instruments, educated people to prepare and eat cooked food, and initiated the Eight Trigrams (eight combinations of three whole or broken lines formerly used in divinations), the symbolized sign of ancient Chinese culture. Along with the move of tribes, the ancient civilization created and advocated by Fuxi was introduced to other ethnic groups in the Yellow River valley, giving birth to the Chinese nation with Yandi and Huangdi tribes as the core, and Fuxi culture as the foundation. Legend has it that the 13th day of the fifth lunar month is the birthday of Fuxi. Tianshui is the hometown of Fuxi Culture Festival. During the festival, various kinds of folk performances are shown, of which Wushan Rotating Drum Dance and Qincheng Plywood Dance are the most attractive things go on around Western Xia Tombs, Shahu Lake, Liupan Mountain, Helan Mountain and Tengger Desert.

1. China Ningxia Great Desert and Yellow River International Tourism Festival
Time: July every year
Venue: Zhongwei City in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
Introduction: Jointly sponsored by the China National Tourism Administration and the People's Government of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the Great Desert and Yellow River International Tourism Festival aims to launch exchanges and cooperation with domestic and foreign counterparts, strengthen friendship between the Chinese and foreign people, and promote the prosperity and development of Ningxia's tourism and economy through the display of the deserts in Ningxia, the ancient Yellow River culture, the customs and lifestyle of the Hui people, and the mysterious Western Xia Kingdom.

A series of special activities are held during the festival, such as a boat tour on the Yellow River, a tour of the ancient Great Wall, an exploration tour the deserts, an ecological tour of Shahu Lake, a tour of the land of the Hui people, a tour for tracing the Silk Road, a summer holiday tour in Liupan Mountain, a an exploration tour of Helan of the mysterious Western Xia Kingdom, drifting on the Yellow River by 1,000 people, walking through the Tengger Desert by 10,000people, a Carting car race, the week for the display of Western Xia Kingdom culture, the Taoyue "Yellow River Grassland Culture Tourism festival," and so on around Western Xia Tombs, Shahu Lake, Liupan Mountain, Helan Mountain and Tengger Desert.

1. Four Grand Summons Ceremonies at the Kunmbum Monastery
Time: From the 14th to 15th day of the first month, the 14th to the 15th day of the fourth month, the seventh to the eighth day of the sixth month, and the 22th to the 23rd day of the ninth month by the Tibetan calendar.
Venue: Huangzhong County, Qinghai Province
Introduction: Constructed to commemorate Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Yellow Sect, the Kumbum Monastery is a center for Buddhist activities in northwest China and one of the "holy lands" of the believers in Chinese Lamaism, known for the three consummate arts of butter sculpture flowers, murals and embroidered fabrics. The Grand Summons Ceremony is a Buddhist activity to Preach Buddhism and worship Buddha. The Kumbum Monastery holds four traditional summons ceremonies a year, with a magnificent scene and a solemn atmosphere, which are very attractive to tourists.

During the summons ceremony, the Tibetan, Tu and Mongolian people holds various Buddhist activities, such as the exhibition of butter sculpture Flowers, and displaying Buddhist images, From the 14th to the 15th day of the first month by the Tibetan calendar, Yamataka (Destroy of Death) Dance is performed and a large exhibition of butter sculpture flowers is held; from 14th to the 15th day of the fourth month by the Tibetan calendar, Buddhist believers do Yamataka Dance and display the images of Buddha under the sun; from the seventh to the eighth day of the sixth month by the Tibetan calendar, Buddhists perform Yamatak Dance and display the IMAGES OF Buddha under the sun; and from the 22nd to the 23rd day of the ninth month by the Tibetan Calendar, pilgrims perform Hayagriva (Horse-Head God) Dance, and Pay homage to Buddha and commemorate the death of Tsongkhaba. The activities are held around Kumbum Monastery, Dongguan Mosque, Qinghai Lake, Birds Island, etc.

1. China Silk Road Turpan Grape Festival
Time: August 25 too September 1 every year
Venue: Turpan city' the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
Introduction: Grape cultivation in the world-famous city of Turpan has a history of more than 2,000 years. Of the 100-odd grapes, known as "green pearls of China," are the most precious. The raisin and wine produced in Turpan are known for their lingering good tastes. Most of Turpan's grapes are grown in the renowned Grape Valley, also called “Pearl City” in the deserts. The Xinjiang Grape Festival was first launched in 1990 and has since become an annual event in Turpan. There are the Uygur wedding ceremony, mashlap (lively and humorous folk dance), Koco-style songs and dances, the Hami-melon competition, economic and trade talks, a tour of the Grape and Melon Street, camel caravans, and reappearance of the Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago, around Flaming Mountain, Grape Valley in Turpan Depression.  

2. Festival of East Fast-Breaking
Time: the first day of the 10th month by the Islamic Calendar.
Venue: the areas inhabited by the Hui, Uygur and Kazak people.
Introduction: According to the Islamic scriptures, when Islam was founded, Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which no food or drink may be taken between sunrise and sunset). After that he put on clean clothes and led Moslems to the outskirts to hold religious services and distribute fast-breaking donations to atone for their sins. With time going by, this practice has been handed down and become one of the three major festivals of Islam.

In the early morning of the Festival of Fast-Breaking, adult Muslims would take a bath, put on their holiday best and go to the mosque. In addition, Muslims visit friends and relatives, exchange greetings and gifts, such as oil and sanzi (fried dough twists) to express congratulations with each other. The people who live a nomadic attend the horse race, sheep-grasping on horse-back and other activities, adding much joyous atmosphere to the festival.

3. Corban Festival
Time: The 10 th day of the 12th month by the Islamic Calendar
Venue: The areas inhabited by the Hui, Uygur and Kazak people
Introduction: An ancient Arabic legend goes that Father Abraham had faith and trust in Allah. One day in his dream, Allah ordered him to kill son to offer sacrifices. When Abraham was about to execute his son, Allah dispatched an angel to the site with a sheep, ordering Abraham to slaughter the sheep instead. After that, people would slaughter sheep to pray for safety on the day. Now the Corban Festival (meaning slaughtering animals) is celebrated every year.
What's On: At the festival, Muslims would go to the mosque where they attend the religious service and the ceremony for slaughtering animals. Then every family would start celebrations by slaughtering cattle, sheep and camels to entertain friends and relatives. During the feast, they taste various delicious foods and chat happily with each other. The ethnic minority people in Xinjiang sing song and perform dances to celebrate the festival, in addition to other activities, such as grasping sheep on horseback, horse races and "chasing after girls."

For further details, please view the Entertainment & Nightlife guide on the following cities on the Silk Road: