Top Festivals and Customs in Guilin

February 21, 2012 by

Best Of Lists, Festivals & Events, Local Recommendations, Things To Do

Dragon Boat Festival in Guilin. Photo courtesy of melli1979 via Flickr.

Dragon Boat Festival in Guilin. Photo courtesy of melli1979 via Flickr.

Home to many different ethnic minorities, Guilin plays host to a number of colorful festivals and traditions which highlight their unique cultures.


1. Longsheng Red Clothes Festival (March)Longsheng County is home to the famous long-haired Red Yao, who wear red clothes as their national costume. In mid-March, the Red Yao gather in Sishui to celebrate their culture, mingle with other Red Yao and, for some, find a potential wife or husband. You can expect to see bamboo pole balancing, beauty contests and much singing and dancing.

2. Dragon Boat Festival (May) – The spectacular annual Dragon Boat Festival takes place in Guilin in early May. The festival commemorates a famous Chinese patriot and poet, Qu Yuan, and offers prayer for a bumper harvest year. It’s a colorful and traditional event with dragon boat songs, drums and bells. These festivities draw big crowds to the banks of the Li River.

3. Ziyuan River Lantern and Song Festival (July) – Han Chinese and other ethnic minorities come together in this traditional festival to commemorate their ancestors and pray for good fortune for their children. Held about 100 km away in Ziyuan County, the festival consists of villagers and art troupes as they perform lion and dragon dances before taking to the river at nightfall to create river lantern displays. There’s also a lively market held the following day.


1. Lusheng Dance – Originally a dance of the Miao, the Lusheng dance is a popular traditional dance performed to the sounds of a reed-pipe instrument (a Lusheng). Young men play the Lusheng while women, donned in their traditional finery, dance to the rhythm.

2. Bull fighting & Horse racing – Perhaps surprisingly (particularly in the case of bull fighting) the folk traditions of bull fighting and horse racing have long been practiced by minority nationalities in northern Guilin.

- Emma McMahon

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