—Beijing has a flourishing art scene. Contemporary painting enjoys a certain popularity in the city's art galleries but collections are still not as extensive as in other major world cities. For current exhibitions, try the CourtYard Gallery and the China Art Gallery. The Dashanzi art district hosting such big names as 798 Space and the 798 Red T Space is a must for art lovers. Photography buffs should check out the Three Shadows Art Centre, the first gallery in China exclusivly devoted to photography. You will also find traditional art, such as landscape painting and calligraphy, but this work often tends to be overlooked in favor of more modern styles. If you are visiting Beijing during September be sure not to miss the annual art events Art Beijing and the Dashanzi International Art Festival where you can see the works of cutting edge artists from all over the world.
—Designed to expose foreigners to Chinese cinema, Cherry Lane Movies features Chinese films subtitled in English. Alternatively, why not join an eclectic audience at the Sculpting In Time
café and catch a subtitled foreign film on movie nights. If you are willing to stray from the city centre then you can also visit the China National Film Museum. This enormous 63 acre museum is truly a film buffs fantasy, featuring 20 permanent collections and 1500 films.
—The city of Beijing has played host to various international dance troupes such as the Joffrey Ballet. The Central Ballet is the premier ballet company of China and gives annual performances of Western classics such as Swan Lake. Venues for these performances include the Poly Plaza International theatre.
—Beijing offers a full quota and wide diversity of museums—just like any capital city worth its salt! Some museums are educational, such as the Beijing Museum of Natural History (infamous for its pickled human specimens!) and the high-tech China Space Museum. For those eager to learn more about Chinese history and culture, why not visit historical museums such as the Confucian Temple
and the Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling? For the ultimate history lesson, though, venture over to the Forbidden City
where the Palace Museum resides. Once the home of several emperors, this gigantic museum is the largest in China featuring a collection so vast that it cannot all be seen in one day.
—Classical music concerts are held at various locations in Beijing. The most impressive auditorium is the Beijing Concert Hall which seats up to 1,000 people. The upscale Century theatre is another major venue for a classical music fix. Various hotels across the city, such as the Palace Hotel
and Jianguo Hotel also host soothing musical performances. For a flavour of local culture, try the San Wei Bookstore
and enjoy traditional Chinese music played with such instruments as the erhu
is everywhere in Beijing. Big international names often perform at the MAO Livehouse and Workers' Stadium. For those interested in alternative music, D-22 hosts both national and international acts by both popular and up and coming artists.
The city has a burgeoning nightclub scene that caters for all tastes. Most clubs are concentrated in the downtown area but you will find a few in the Hai Dian student district, such 180. Downtown clubs are naturally more expensive but they have a slicker atmosphere. Vogue
is for the serious club goer, playing techno and house music late into the night, whereas the Nightman Disco and Destination cater to an underground gay scene. The Kai Club hosts music for a young hip crowd playing indie and electronic music. For those who want to groove to South American sounds, drop in to Havana Cafe
or Salsa Cabana
—both have live bands and offer salsa dance lessons. For the seedier side, check out the infamous Maggie's
which is open all night. Conversely, the chic and trendy Loft
, and the the incredible World of Suzie Wong Club have raised nighttime decadence to new heights!
—Characterized by vivid costuming, face make-up and a vocal pitch akin to caterwauling (according to some!), this traditional form of performance art dates back to the 18th century. Beijing Opera proves extremely popular with tourists and is performed in various tea houses and theatres such as Lao She Tea House
and Liyuan theatre.