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The Big Guide to the Best CNY in Shanghai

What's open, what's on, what to do... and assorted trivia!
2023-01-20 17:00:00



If you're sticking around for Chinese New Year here's a bunch of things you can do. As always, there's still lots of places to go. Our suggestion is to use this time to take stock of the important things in life -- health, family, whatever -- and try to stay nicely toasted the whole week.

Happy Chinese New Year from the SmartShanghai team!

Cheat Sheet – CNY Knowledge

Celebrations commence on New Year's Eve (Saturday, January 21) which goes by Da Nian Ye (大年夜) or Chu Xi Ye (除夕夜) depending on where in China you are. The family sits down to a big banquet, the Nian Ye Fan (年夜饭). That's also the night when the world's most viewed annual television is aired - Chun Wan (春晚), that four-hour Spring Festival variety show that CCTV barrages the nation with every year. The stroke of midnight marks Da Nian Chu Yi (大年初一). Then each subsequent day is designated for certain customs:

  • 2nd day (January 23): KāiNián (开年) - married daughters visiting their birth parents to renew family ties and relationships.
  • 3rd day (January 24): HìKǒu (赤口) - a propitious day to visit the temple of the God of Wealth and have one's future told.
  • 5th day (January 26): PòWǔ (破五) - God of Wealth's birthday. Traditionally people eat jiaozi.
  • 6th day (January 27): MǎRi (马日 )Horse's Day. People drive away the Ghost of Poverty by throwing out the garbage stored up during the festival.
  • 7th day (January 28) ... is a Saturday and we are all supposed to go back to work.

More CNY knowledge is in this SmartShanghai article here.

Fireworks ?


In short, fireworks are only allowed outside the outer ring road, with a bunch of exceptions (e.g. not near kindergardens, hospitals etc), and not on heavily polluted days. Here's the official announcement from the city's government with all the details.

Open Venues:

We've called the 100 or so most popular places from our directory and checked on their hours. Here's the selection of what's open, but always call ahead to make a reservation or use the Chope reservation button in the SmartShanghai listings. Scroll down to the bottom to see what isn't open.

Dining – New(ish) Places worth trying

Efes Turkish Restaurant (Jin'gan) - Open daily
Efes, the popular Turkish restaurant in Pudong, recently took over Seve's location on Huashan Lu. It's a nice casual spot for some reasonably priced modern twists on Turkish classics, kebabs, and sharing plates, along with a range of healthy Mediterranean sides and salads.

AnokhiOpen daily
Contemporary fusion Indian cuisine at new f&b hub The Weave, coming to us from the producers of the classic, comfort food Indian resto Khan Chacha. Excellent food, friendly services, good for smaller and larger groups. Special CNY set menu for 4 people available throughout the holidays.

BoCa Latin Flavors Open daily
BoCa trades in tradition, culture, and Latin-American flavors at their venue in the heart of Jing'an. On the menu is classic, home-style dishes from Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine. Popular with a south American crowd both as a restaurant and as a bar.

Bella Vita (Haifang Lu) Open daily
The third location for Bella Vita has them in prime real estate in the New Factories complex in northern Jing'an. Bella Vita trades in simple, straight-ahead classic Italian comfort food, with a big, well-stocked wine cellar to match. Expect a casual menu of Italian cuisine in and contemporary, mod-ish environment.

Flair (Ritz Carlton Pudong) Open daily
Flair isn't exactly new - but they recently re-opened after an extensive renovation of the 11-year venue. It's now not only offering stunning views but also a really slick, comfortable bar inside that's worth visiting for a drink and light dinner any day of the week.

Brunch Spots:

Pubs / Bars:

Date Night:


As Shanghai goes into hibernation mode the situation is thus: some clubs are staying open for all of it; most are front loading big parties on Saturday night — the main party night of CNY — and then taking a break; and some are closing entirely. Always strange times clubbing in Shanghai during CNY with half the city on a beach somewhere and a bunch of tourists hanging out wondering where all the people are.

The always dependable C's is doing DJ events all week, as is Celia, your go-to destination for the wee hours.

Dada is doing three nights of CNY parties on January 20, 21, and 22, before taking a break and closing until February 1. Dada fans stop by this weekend to get your fill. Elevator has a pretty involved one scheduled for Friday, January 20 with Knopfa djing and Heimu performing live, and then they're closed until January 26. Nothing at ALL this weekend but they've got Genome scheduled for January 25 and Synth Crush returning on January 26 at the end of the week. Potent has nights scheduled from January 20 to January 23 before they're off for a few days. Looks like hip hop business as usual at Ninja. System is closed completely until January 26. Likewise,Heim is closed until January 26. YYs, Keep it Quiet, and Abyss are closed for the break.

On the LGBTQI scene, Hunt is open and serving every single night of the holidays, as is Roxie, with the exception of one day: Saturday, January 21. Every other night is all good at Roxie. New kid on the block Palace is open for a party Friday, January 20, and then closed for January 21, 22, and then open again from Monday to Wednesday.

Live Music

Live houses in Shanghai usually take a break for the entirety of the CNY — most of the bands are out of town visiting mum and dad — and this year is no different. Both Yuyintangs are closed, as is The Boxx, Mao Livehouse, OkOk Club, Neo Bar, and even Shake until January 26.

If you want to see original live music, head to C's Saturday for two Shanghai-based singer / songwriters — Raydio and Fran — plus DJs.

The Pearl, however, is picking up the slack with 9 live concerts / shows in 8 days of holidays. Really making up for lost time, is Shanghai's favorite cabaret venue. Our pick of the schedule is the East Meets West Drag Show, they've got for January 24. Six of Shanghai most wonderful-est queens doing Western and C-Pop hits on stage. Sounds like fun times!

But hey, do you like jazz? Shake may be closed but their sister venue Heyday is hosting in performers throughout the holidays. Highlights include the Ella Fitzgerald-inspired vocalist Lonnie Long on January 23 and the one and only Frank Bray on January 25.

The first name in Shanghai jazz, JZ Club is also open every night of the week, hosting a collection of six nights of various jazz acts (and then some) grouped into a Spring Jazz Rabbit Year concert series.

Art Exhibitions: Three Recommended Shows

The Ultimate Romance in the Universe - "Science & Art Exhibition" at Fosun Foundation

This huge immersive multimedia exhibition at the Fosun Foundation explores the relationship between people and the universe and lets us discover the beauty and romantic side of what's in the dark sky above us. Featuring the works of over 30 artists from 10 different countries -- many of who have been displayed at renowned art shows around the world -- this is a great show for adults and kids from 3 years and up. Read more about the exhibition on SmartShanghai here. Open daily. E-tickets here.

Meet Mucha and Meet Donghuan at the Meet You Museum

Despite its relatively odd name, the Meet You Museum has constantly been bringing great shows in the past years. Their current highlights are Meet Mucha, an exhibition showing nearly 200 originals of the "Father of Modern Graphic Design", Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, for the first time in China. And you got a few more weeks to see Meet Donghuan, an immersive art exhibition with projections of ancient Chinese images and sounds. Open from Jan 22. Tickets for both shows here.

Museum of Art Pudong

MOAP in Pudong has become the go-to museum if you want to see a few well curated, large-room art shows. The big one currently on display is The Dynamic Eye, a graphics and optics heavy cross-medium exhibition featuring works from the Tate Collection. But tickets to the museum usually give you access to all their exhibitions. Close January 21-23. E-Tickets here.

Watch the Lanterns at Yu Gardens at Lantern Festival

This isn't during the "holiday" holiday, per se, but if you want to round out the full, traditional two-week celebration, this is how you do it: with tens of thousands of other people thronging Yu Gardens for Yuán Diāo Jié (元宵节), the Lantern Festival, on February 5. But you don't have to wait until then. The decoration for the festival has been up since January 10 and will stay up until February 5. So you can head down to Yu Garden to see all the beautiful red lanterns. 50rmb entrance fee. Tickets are available at the door. Need to bring your passport.

Activities! So Many Activities!

RIINK - the Neon-lit, loud, fun, fabulous, Shanghai's most popular (only?) roller disco is open through the holidays and you should really go and try it, because they are offering a really net deal for SmartShanghai readers. 138rmb includes one skate rental and one drink (including booze). Open daily. E-Tickets here.

Extreme Jump is an indoor trampoline park in conjunction with an "extreme" section that provides several high-altitude entertainment facilities, lots of trampolines, slides, batting cage, arcade games and lots of other fun stuff. Pictures here. Open daily. E-Tickets here.

W1NNER is a slick, neon-drenched indoor go-karting track using all sleek, vibration-less, decidedly un-tingly electric cars. It's a little pricier than other spots around town but cleaner and safer than your average karting circuit. Open daily. E-Tickets here.

Ice Skating

The biggest outdoor ice skating rink (that we could find) is outside the Sinar Mas Plaza. The large outdoor skating rink comes with light shows in the evening and a nice river view. Price includes basic skating equipment. Walkers and instructors are also available on site for newbies.

The Bund Finance Center has a 300-square-meter outdoor ice skating rink open daily until February 26. It's part of their Weekend Market which has food vendors and all sort of entertainment so it's usually worth a visit if you look for something to do with the kids.

Changfeng Joy City, the mall up in the north with the big ferry wheel on the roof has an indoor rink with cute cartoon décor, making it particularly family-friendly for young skaters just learning.

All details here.

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The Jinmao Tower Skywalk - the world's highest skywalk where you walk around the outside of the Jinmao Tower 340m above the streets below - is open every day during the holidays. The minimum age is 10 years old to take the walk. Get your e-tickets to this one here.

Magic Jungle, that high ropes course that you see when you walk along the north bund, right next to the International Ferry Terminal, is open throughout the holidays. A clear day will give you a spectacular view across the river while you have suspended 60ft in the air. Suitable for both kids and adults. Get your e-tickets here.

The Shanghai Tower Observation Deck, on the 118 floor, is open every single day from 8.30am-10.30pm.

Hot Springs for Hot People on Vacation

Oriental Spring is open throughout the holidays, and with everyone out of town, this might be a really nice quiet spot to enjoy the three-floor water resort with fifteen outdoor pools and five indoor saunas. Open daily. E-tickets here.

Our other two favorite bathhouses, Newstar and Cheersum, are both open the whole holiday, 24 hours, no break no closure no clothing. Lounge around in pajamas after a hot shower, a hot soak, a hard bodyscrub and a heated floor. Newstar is the more packed, family-friendly of the two, Cheersum is a little more upscale, less kid-friendly (though they sneak in), but geared more towards men, with a much larger and more opulent bathing area than the ladies get.

Assorted Things That You Can Upgrade Your Profile Picture At

Teamlab is in every of these holiday roundups because it is - despite the high price - totally worth a visit. The futuristic wonderland of a museum is a fantasy world spread across many rooms, with endlessly changing and interactive projections creating a disorienting trip akin to that bit in 2001. Go see it if you haven't. Open daily. E-Tickets here.

And Temple of Light - the immersive digital art exhibition on the Bund - continues its Shanghai presence with two new exhibitions by award-winning creative powerhouse Danny Rose. Dive into stunning colors and textures and a contemplative journey through the masterpieces of the Renaissance. Closed Jan 21-22. E-Tickets here.

The Museum of Ice Cream is a New York-imported Museum spread over two floors at the Qiantan Taikoo Li in Pudong, with around 14 variously interactive displays of ice cream-themed whimsy, ideal for people looking for a new WeChat profile picture, Instagram post, or very small children who like big, bright colors. E-Tickets here.

And a Little Bit of Nature ...

If you want to get a bit of nature in Shanghai without actually leaving the city, then Shanghai Binjiang Forest Park is one of our top choices. Located at the city's northernmost edge, where the Huangpu River meets the Yangtze River it is the closest forest park to Shanghai's downtown area. For a full, comprehensive list of parks in Shanghai, check out this SmartShanghai article.

Closed Venues:

  • Brewdog - Closed until January 25
  • Italo – Closed until January 25
  • Zeitgeist – Closed until January 25
  • Cotton's – Closed until January 27
  • Tacolicious – Closed until January 26
  • Chez Jojo Yongjia Lu – Closed until January 27
  • Funkadeli Yanping Lu – Closed until January 27
  • Speto's – Closed until January 28
  • Bar Centrale – Closed for refurbishment
  • Temperature & Temptation – Closed until January 28
  • Crush Wine Bar – Closed until January 31
  • Tomatito – Closed until January 27
  • Villa Le Bec – Closed until February 2
  • Char Char Bistro – Closed until January 26
  • Zup Pizza – Closed until January 31
  • Yaya's Pasta Bar - Closed until January 28
  • Bastard - Closed until January 30
  • Rac II - Closed until January 26
  • Rac Allee - Closed until January 26
  • Bonica - Closed until January 25
  • Gensis - Closed until January 26
  • Cometa - Closed until January 28
  • Something - Closed until January 27
  • Cannery - Closed until January 30
  • The Rooster - Closed until January 28
  • Keep it Quiet - Closed until January 28
  • YY's - Closed until January 28
  • Egg - Closed until Jan 28
  • Lucky Mart - Closed until Jan 28

Happy New Year!

From everyone at SmartShanghai, we wish you a happy, lucky, and prosperous 2023!