Golden Week is the name given to two separate holidays or festivals in China. The first occurs at the beginning of the year and is more commonly referred to as Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, while the other coincides with the National Day of the People’s Republic of China on 1st October.

Golden Week and National Day celebrations in China

National Day honours Mao Zedong’s 1949 declaration of independence. The day is celebrated throughout China, Hong Kong and Macau, and it marks the start of Golden Week and the seven day national holiday.

National Day celebrations begin with the raising of the Chinese National flag in the capital city of Beijing, before the country’s military take to the streets for a series of large parades and festivals. Many people take the often long trip to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to watch the festivities and take in the atmosphere, and cities are often decorated with red lanterns symbolising happiness and fortune. The day concludes with fireworks displays across each of the major cities of China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

Golden Week celebrations in the West

While Golden Week is relatively new – it was implemented only 15 years ago – the numbers of people who choose to travel during this time, either to return to their rural homes in China or to travel abroad, has increased dramatically.

During the first Golden Week, 28 million Chinese travelled either domestically or internationally. However, this year it is expected that over 610 million will travel, with many choosing to visit Europe and the United States.

In 2014, approximately 200,000 Chinese tourists travelled to London, the shopping capital of the UK, during Golden Week. And that number is set to rise, with figures estimating that 18% more Chinese tourists will decide to travel abroad this year.