Celebrating China’s Mid-Autumn Festival and Golden Week: A Double Delight in 2023

As we enter into October, China is having an exciting week with a double celebration that captivates the hearts and minds of its people – the Mid-Autumn Festival and Golden Week. This year, these two events coincide to offer a week-long holiday break, with the festival taking place on Friday, September 29th, and Golden Week from October 1 – 7.

It is also the first National Day holiday since the country lifted all Covid restrictions, so the number of travelers is particularly high. 

So what exactly is the Mid-Autumn Festival, and why does China have a holiday to boost its economy? In this article, we explore the magical essence of the Mid-Autumn Festival and how it intertwines with the Golden Week festivities to create a week of joy and unity in China.

The Mid-Autumn Festival

Sky lanterns make for a spectacular sight during the Mid-Autumn Festival. People write wishes on them before releasing them towards the heavens to bring them good luck and prosperity. Image: Pone Pluck / Getty Images

The Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhōngqiū Jié (中秋节) in Chinese) is one of China’s most cherished traditional festivals, celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which typically falls in late September or early October. It has a history dating back over 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. It is sometimes called the Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival. 

  • Mooncakes: At the heart of the Mid-Autumn Festival are mooncakes, round pastries filled with sweet or savory fillings like lotus seed paste, red bean, and salted egg yolk. These delicious treats symbolize unity and togetherness, making them a popular gift exchanged between families and friends.
  • Family Reunions: The Mid-Autumn Festival places a strong emphasis on family reunions. It is a time when families come together to share a special meal, admire the full moon, and exchange well-wishes. The tradition of admiring the moon is believed to have originated from the ancient Chinese practice of moon worship.
  • Lanterns: During this festival, you’ll see lanterns of all shapes and sizes illuminating the streets. People write their wishes on colorful lanterns and release them into the sky, hoping they come true. It’s a magical sight to behold!
  • Full Moon: It is believed that the moon is the fullest and brightest during this time of year. The round shape symbolizes completeness and unity. It also marks the harvest season, representing the year’s hard work in agriculture. Folklore also plays a part, where people offer prayers and offerings to the moon as a sign of respect and gratitude to the Moon Goddess Chang’e.
  • Folklore: Traditional folklore and legends, such as the tale of Chang’e and Houyi, are often recited during the festivities. Legend has it that Chang’e, a mythical goddess, resides on the moon, making this festival even more enchanting.
    Mooncakes come in a huge variety of flavours, though the most traditional ones are those with lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk. Modern variations include fruit, nut, chocolate, and even ice-cream-filled mooncakes. Image: AFP / BBC

Golden Week: A Time for Travel

Golden Week is one of the longest public holidays in the world, introduced to promote domestic tourism and stimulate economic activities.

Golden Week, or Guòqìng Jié (国庆节), is a week-long national holiday in China that takes place twice a year. The October break celebrates National Day – the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949. The holiday was established to boost the economy by promoting domestic tourism and encouraging Chinese citizens to explore their own country. It’s called “golden” because it’s a prime time for people to take a well-deserved break and go on vacation. 

During Golden Week, millions of Chinese citizens take advantage of the extended holiday to travel domestically. Popular tourist destinations within China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Guilin, are packed with visitors, especially this year.

This is the first Golden Week in the post-pandemic era, after three years of travel restrictions. 

An ancient Chinese poster depicting National Day celebrations.

Throughout Golden Week, cities across China organize various cultural events, parades, and fireworks displays to mark the national holiday. This festive atmosphere is heightened by the fact that people across the nation are celebrating together.

Study Abroad in China

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival and Golden Week celebrations in October represent a beautiful fusion of tradition and modernity, family and travel, culture and unity. The Mid-Autumn Festival reminds us of the importance of family and togetherness, while Golden Week encourages exploration and celebration of the nation’s heritage. So, if you find yourself living and studying in China, take the chance to embrace the festive spirit, try some mooncakes, and let the magic of these celebrations sweep you off your feet. China welcomes you with open arms, ready to share its traditions, culture, and warm hospitality.

Get started by applying to your dream program through the China Admissions platform.


The featured image at the top of the page is by CNN Travel.

Kay contributes to the Marketing team at China Admissions. A "third-culture kid" based in Thailand, she has had lifelong exposure to international communities and has worked with top global brands. Having studied abroad herself, she encourages young minds to invest in their self-development and foster an appreciation for new countries and cultures.
Kay M

Join 180,000+ international students and get monthly updates

Receive Admissions, Scholarships & Deadlines Updates from Chinese Universities.
Unsubscribe anytime.