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Spring Festival 2019 Kunming special events guide

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In the run-up to Spring Festival, we reached out to the Kunming Municipal Tourism Development Commission (KMTDC) to find out what special events will be held over the holiday, which this year will officially be observed February 4-10. We were happy to learn the local government is overseeing 100 individual functions during the lunar new year celebration.

All of these events were reportedly created to highlight some of the Spring City's more outstanding winter features, as well as focus on cherished Spring Festival holiday traditions. The ten themes of the 100 events are sunshine, sightseeing, seagulls, flowers, wetlands, minority culture, golfing, hot springs, driving and photography.

Of those 100, we've taken some recommendations from KMTDC and added others we think most appeal to foreigners living in Kunming. Remember, the city's prefectural capital level status makes 'Kunming City' a very large place indeed. It includes not only the five urban districts of Chenggong, Guandu, Panlong, Wuhua and Xishan, but also stretches west to Anning, north to Dongchuan and east to the Stone Forest.

We've chosen interesting events in as many places as we could, focusing on getting outside, enjoying the various natural spots Kunming has to offer, perhaps taking along the kids, and learning about Chinese culture. Below are the dates and locations of our 12 picks.

This being Kunming, most schedules were released without hard and fast times attached. Please click the links below for each venue's contact information when making your plans. As of autumn 2018, all A-rated scenic areas and historical spots across Kunming have lowered their ticket prices. Enjoy! And happy Spring Festival, everyone!

Events in Kunming proper

Wetland Exploration
Dates: Anytime
Event: Although there are no specific Spring Festival events scheduled at Kunming's numerous wetland parks, KMTDC would like to remind everyone that these restored natural areas are full of birds, winter-blooming flowers and, perhaps most importantly, an opportunity for some peace and quiet outside in nature. Laoyuhe, Junfa and Xihua wetland parks are three of the biggest and most mature.

Haigeng Dam and Promenade
Dates: Anytime
Event: Each year since the mid-1980s, thousands of migrating gulls have come to Kunming from their summer nesting grounds in Russia and Mongolia. Snapping pictures, feeding the flocks and otherwise interacting with them on Haigeng Dam has become a winter tradition in Kunming. Best of all, this 'event' is always free and open to anyone.

Yunnan Nationalities Village
Dates: February 5-10
Event: Learn how Tibetans and Wa people observe their own unique Spring Festival traditions. Sample barley wine, butter tea and take part in traditional Tibetan new year activities. In the Wa section of the park, guest will be able to participate in song and dance performances and discover the traditions surrounding Wa offerings that ensure a prosperous new year.

Golden Temple
Dates: Feb 5-14
Event: Golden Temple will hold daily miaohui (庙会) — or 'temple fair' — events for nine days. These will include traditional lion and dragon dances, musical performances, kite-flying, bamboo weaving, shadow puppetry and several other forms of Chinese intangible cultural heritage. Local Kunming snacks and handicrafts will also be on sale from two dozen vendors.

Black Dragon Pool Park
Dates: January 19-28
Event: The park is hosting a ten-day 'Interactive Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival'. Learn traditional silversmiths work in Guandu, how Yiliang artisans utilize bamboo, how to build paper kites, carve wood, pull noodles, and many other activities. Traditional Kunming snacks like Chenggong stinky tofu will be on hand.

Guandu Culture Center
Dates: Now - February 28
Event: Explore an exhibition of folk paintings from across eras and the Kunming area. The museum will hold commensurate interactive and "dynamic" seminars on painting styles, techniques and pigment sources native to the Spring City.

Kunming World Horticultural Expo Garden
Dates: February 5-10
Event: Lantern lighting ceremonies will be held across the park each day. In addition, activities emphasizing the cultural traditions of all minority groups in Yunnan will be held. Each day culminates in a feast of ethnic food from across the province, together with minority bands, music and dances.

Winter Golf
Dates: Anytime
Event: KMTDC wants to remind everyone that Kunming is one of the few major cities in China with year-round, 18-hole golfing. Suggested links include the Kunming Country Club, Lakeview Golf Club and the Yulongwan Golf Club in Anning.

Events further afield

Jiuxiang Scenic Resort
Dates: February 5-11
Event: Spelunking at its best. Walk and boat through endless caves and then explore the surrounding area on foot or by cablecar. Tickets are usually 120 yuan, but are discounted 25 percent to 90 yuan for the entire week.

Hot Springs
Dates: Anytime
Event: If the weather turns cold and gray, an afternoon or evening at a nearby hot spring is the perfect cure. Jinfang Forest Hot Springs in Anning and Dianchi Spring Spa here in Kunming are both well-established, reliable and clean.

Yunnan Flower Demonstration Park Flower Festival
Dates: February 5 - March 20
Event: Flowers, flowers and more flowers. Literally. Hectares of tulips, sunflowers, peonies and poinsettias. Walk through the fields and growing facilities, check out the vineyards, take the kids to the petting zoo or catch fish in the pond.

Stone Forest Scenic Area
Dates: February 5-20
Event: For more than two weeks, the Stone Forest will host a series of events highlighting Yi minority culture and celebrating Spring Festival. From February 5-10 dragon and lion dances will be held alongside lantern-making activities and a folk art exhibition.

Happy Year of the Pig! We'll be back soon with our annual wrap-up of business schedule changes for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

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