On April the 21th, the XiCheng Tourism Bureau, hosted an event in Shichahai, celebrating the Guyu Festival and ushering in the 2011 Spring Tourism season for one of Beijing’s most popular tourist and relaxation destinations. The Guyu festival is a traditional Chinese agricultural celebration held to invite spring rains for the newly planted crop. The event featured a group of “Rain Drummers”, whose instruments were covered with shallow pools of water. With every acrobatic strike, water drops flew about during the performance imitating a heavy downpour of rain, with thunderous drumming rhythm in the back ground. Other performances and activities included traditional music performances (水上乐坊), lion dances, a pleasant boat ride around the lake, and a blessing for the good luck and fortune for the year ahead.
The celebration activities were held in the historic and cultural center of Shichahai, which is now a popular tourist and recreational destination in the West District of Beijing. Roughly 600 years ago, starting from the Yuan Dynasty, Shichahai was situated at the northernmost section of the Chinese Grand Canal, extending from Beijing to Hangzhou. It served as an transportation link between the North and South of China, and an important hub in Beijing for commerce and trade.
Today Shichahai is a modern recreation and commercial destination with an area of 147 hectares, surrounding the QianHai, HouHai and XiHai, lakes. The entire area is connected by canals and pedestrian walkways which are spotted with charming restaurants, tea houses, and small shops all built in classic Beijing Hutong style architecture. During the day, Shichahai offers a quiet retreat from the bustle of the city which is enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike, who can often be seen walking along the canals, playing chess under shaded trees, or enjoying a relaxing afternoon pot of tea in a lake side teahouse. In the evening, the scene explodes in a bustle of night life with colorful lights, eclectic music, and bar hoppers strolling out in the night air. With a wide range of styles and flavors to offer, Shichahai is a great place for a pleasant afternoon, or a night out on the town in old Beijing.
It’s hard to tell exactly how or why, but after the Guyu festival, there were no less than three days of straight rain. With light sprinkles in the afternoon, and heavy downpours in the evenings, there must be a bit of wisdom behind the old celebration of Guyu.
1. Boating: it’s a good choice for party, meeting and chat….
At least 10-12 people/boat, RMB500 / boat.
2. Bus No. 5, 60, 107, 108, 111 to ShiChaHai or GuLou.