Top 10 Things to Do in January and February

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1. Temple Fair Tour
Usher in the Year of the Ox 

The festivities officially begin on Jan 26. Visit temples to eat local food, buy crafts, see costume parades and marvel at fire-spouting performances. We’ve rounded up the best parks and fairs to experience all kinds of folklore and traditions, but if it’s too cold outside, you can enjoy other colorful traditions such as wearing red, decorating your house with red paper-cuttings, and raising red lanterns. And of course, the entire city will be setting off firecrackers, so be prepared.

2. The Nutcracker

The holiday season might be on its way out, but families can still enter the dream-like world of dancing sugar plums and nutcrackers that come to life. Join Clara as the battle rages between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King on Jan 17 and 28 in this classic staged by the State Ballet Theatre of Russia. RMB 180-1,280. Tickets at 6417 7845. 7.30pm. Poly Theatre (6500 1188 ext 5126/5127)

3. Cook Dumplings

Spring Festival is really code for “eating delicious dumplings.” Most Chinese families gather in the kitchen to create this staple food; it’s traditional to mix a small object – such as a peanut or penny – into the filling to signify good luck for the person who bites into the dumpling that holds the “prize.” Little ones can listen to Spring Festival stories, cook with parents and win prizes at Etonkids on Jan 21. Free. 4-6pm. For details, call Coco at 5870 6778 or 400 818 9098 or visit www.etonkids.com.

4. Ice Lantern Festival

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Sometimes the best way to really relish winter is to put on the long underwear, hats, scarves, gloves and coats and head outdoors. Harbin is famous for its International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, but if that’s too far, try the Longqing Gorge Ice Lantern Festival just 80km north of Beijing for an outdoor gallery of ice sculptures. Fireworks, performances and ice slides add to the fun. The China Culture Center offers excursions on Jan 17, 18 and 24.

5. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

In this animated sequel, revisit Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo as they journey back to Africa. These creatures from New York City’s Central Park Zoo encounter their own species in the wild, travel with kooky penguins and tangle with a cranky old Nana. The movie opens Jan 1 in theaters around town. A-list actors lending their voices to this DreamWorks movie include Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and Alec Baldwin.

6. Cruise the Slopes

Escape the concrete of the city and head for the hills – the ski slopes, that is. Get some fresh air, exercise and take in spectacular views in a family vacation on the outskirts of Beijing. See “The Skiing Season” for options for skiers of all levels, be it ski bunny, snow boarding pro, or seasoned skier; you’ll also find sites for night skiing and snowboard jumps, not to mention hot springs and resorts that transport lodgers to a European-like setting.  

7. See Bolt Fight Crime

What happens when a dog finds out his whole life has been a lie? In this kids movie, Bolt, a white German shepherd puppy who has always lived a charmed life, discovers that his owner is really his co-star and his home is actually an elaborate Hollywood set. The cast and crew around the pup have taken great measures to fool Bolt – until one day he ends up being shipped in a crate to big bad New York City. After he adjusts to the hard-knock street life, he and Penny, his co-star, become a crime-fighting team who take on Dr. Calico and his team of evil cats. Bolt hits theaters on Jan 1.

8. Indian Ink

Tie on a sari, adorn your hands with henna, and pick up some jewelry at this day-long bazaar organized by the Indian community of Beijing. At the selection of stalls at the British School of Beijing in Feb 14, you can sift through Indian gift articles, bags, clothes and handcrafted treasures. The event begins at 10am and includes a fashion show. Sanlitun Primary Campus, British School of Beijing (8532 3088, www.britishschool.org.cn)

9. Hit the Books

Do you have a finished novel you’ve been hiding in a drawer? Looking for that chance to show off your writing or just ready to hear about new work from local authors? On Jan 17 from 10am-4pm, go to The BookMark for readings of published authors and budding writers, from students to semi-professionals. A morning of children’s work will be followed by an afternoon of adults’ work, including a lunchtime performance by Mr. Magic, readings by Chris Verrill from Beijing Playhouse and by Tania McCartney from her new book Beijing Tai Tai. Free. For details on reading your own work, contact Deborah at 139 1003 1879 or dlukic@bnewest.com.cn.

10. Song & Dance: New Year’s Gala  

Catch an action-based musical that celebrates the new year – watch the
Chinese Rat and Ox in this performance of dance, action and comedy in the Mad Cow’s Rite Of Spring on Jan 16-18 at 7:30pm. Enjoy Shaanxi paper-cuttings, drum shows, and Tang dynasty dances. Mei Lanfang Theater, 32 Ping’anli Dajie, Xicheng District, Beijing. RMB 60-1,000. For tickets, visit www.piao.com.cn (400 810 3721) or TixChina (800 810 0252).

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