Celebrating the Spring Festival in the Forbidden City
By Sun Wei, Yang Ran

If you wish to get a sense of how the Spring Festival was celebrated in China's imperial court, a tour of the former imperial palace – the Palace Museum – is a great choice.

 The museum in central Beijing is also known as the Forbidden City because commoners were forbidden to enter when it housed the imperial families. 

It's become a landmark attraction in the Chinese capital. Tickets during the Spring Festival holiday are especially in high demand. This week, tickets from New Year's Day – Tuesday – to Sunday were sold out.

The Palace Museum, which has a daily visitor limit of 80,000, is dressed up according to the imperial festive traditions. Decorative lanterns, delicacies, New Year paintings, spring couplets and royal customs fill the massive complex with an immersive Spring Festival experience.

New Year paintings of the God of Door are attached to the doors. /VCG Photo

New Year paintings of the God of Door are attached to the doors. /VCG Photo

Visitors come from all over the country and the world. 

"Just now my friend and I recalled us performing a group dance at the square in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony when we were 15 years old. Half a century has passed since then, the Forbidden City remains the same, but the number of its fans and visitors has increased by a great deal," local visitor Gao Jingli says.

"In the new year we hope we'll be blessed with a baby, and we look forward to the 70th founding anniversary of our country. We wish our motherland peace and prosperity," was the message from Jiang Yan and Li Huijun, two visitors from Shandong Province.

A stand is selling various lanterns in the Forbidden City. /VCG Photo

A stand is selling various lanterns in the Forbidden City. /VCG Photo

The Palace Museum, a World Heritage Site, attracted over 17.5 million visitors in 2018 and is particularly appealing to visitors this spring, partly because of an ongoing exhibition featuring traditional and imperial New Year traditions.

"We've displayed some relics, close to 1,000 pieces in total, to show the imperial customs in marking the lunar New Year. We try to bring a festive atmosphere into every corner of the whole Forbidden City. Almost all of our staff is on duty, ready to offer the best services to visitors during the Spring Festival," director of the Palace Museum Shan Jixiang says.

Titled "Celebrating the Spring Festival in the Forbidden City," the special displays will last until April 7.

Visitors can book tickets online on the museum's official website.

(Cover: A view of the Forbidden City during the Spring Festival. /VCG Photo)