Below is a list of the 2021 Chinese National Holidays.

Further on down we talk about each of these Chinese holidays and how they are celebrated.

We’ll explain more about why this happens this shortly, but here is a list of the “compensation work days” in China for 2021.

  • * February 7th (Sunday) and February 20th (Saturday) are worked to compensate for February 11th (Thursday) and 17th (Wednesday).
  • ** Saturday 18th is worked to compensate for September 20th (Monday).
  • *** September 26th (Sunday) is worked to compensate for October 6th (Wednesday). October 9th (Saturday) is worked to compensate for October 7th (Thursday).
Chinese National Holidays

NOTE – Our Chinese School in Taiwan follows slightly different holidays.

See below, or check out our Taiwan website for more on Taiwan holidays.

Want to discover more about Chinese national holidays?

You’ve come to the right place, here’s an overview of what else we have in store for you:

Chinese Holidays in 2022

How do Chinese National Holidays Work?

Chinese Holidays at LTL

What About Taiwan?

2021 & 2022 Taiwan National Holidays

How Does China Celebrate Holidays?

Chinese National Holiday FAQ’s


* Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th January are worked.
** Saturday 2nd April is worked to compensate for Monday 4th.
*** Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th October are worked to compensate for the Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October.

These dates are just an estimate and still need to be officially confirmed.


Chinese national holidays do not work like in any other country.

So if you really want to understand when people in China have national days off you will have to spend a bit of time trying to understand the system.

This is important because many days that might look like holidays (and are often shown as such on many websites) are in fact not holidays. They are a Saturday or Sunday moved to a week day and in return a weekend will become a normal working day.

China has six national holidays every year: Chinese New Year, Tomb Sweeping Day, Labour Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid Autumn Festival and National Holiday.

For Chinese New Year and National Holiday three days off are given. For the other three holidays there is only one day off.

In addition the Chinese government practices a very unique system that aims to create longer consecutive holidays by exchanging work and weekend days.

So sometimes a Saturday or a Sunday might be a normal work day, while a normal work day is given off.

Even though this makes the whole system a bit confusing and nobody enjoys having to work on a Sunday, it is not without merits. Most Chinese workers do not live in their home towns and are often given very little annual leave.

That means for many the only chance to travel home to visit families are these national holiday/weekend combos.

As an example: National Chinese Holiday 2019

1st – 3rd of October (Tue-Thur) are national holidays

Sunday the 29th of Sep. and Saturday 12th of October are declared working days

In return Friday the 4th and Monday the 7th of October are given off

This creates a consecutive holiday of seven days from Tuesday the 1st of October until Monday the 7th of October.



LTL Mandarin School runs all year, including Christmas and Chinese New Year meaning you can learn Chinese 365 days of the year at LTL.

You will never lose any classes you paid for because of a holiday.

However, if your teacher travels home during a holiday, your classes might have to be moved to other days before or after the holiday.

So especially during longer holidays like Chinese New Year and National Holiday be prepared that there might be some changes to your schedule.


Taiwan Holidays follow a slightly different pattern, but in general they are similar.

For a full guide on Holidays in Taiwan visit our Taiwan School website, but for a quick and easy rundown the holidays are listed below:


2021 Taiwan compensation days are as follow:


This is an estimate. All dates need to be officially confirmed.


Here’s a quick rundown on how Chinese people celebrate the big days in the calendar. We also take a look at how Christmas is celebrated in China.

New Year’s Day

It’s not typical of Chinese culture to celebrate the International New Year, it is generally treated as a day off work.

However, in big cities such as Beijing or Hong Kong, you can expect to enjoy a big firework display and other such celebrations.

Much like in Western culture, families, friends and colleagues will celebrate together to enjoy this national holiday.

Chinese New Year

The big one, the biggest holiday of all in China

Falling on the 1st day in the 1st Lunar month, Chinese New Year is usually in January or February. This is China’s largest festival celebrated throughout the country. It is the longest public holiday in China.

Chinese people usually return to their hometowns, meaning large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are often left empty (or at least more empty than usual).

It is typical at these times for people to eat dumplings and spend time with family and extended family.

There are lots of fireworks set off during the lead up to this Chinese national holiday, climaxing on New Year’s Day.

In recent years in the middle of big cities, for example Beijing, the setting off of fireworks has been banned due to noise pollution and safety.

See below for some pictures of our students and their homestay families celebrating!

Lantern Festival

The Chinese Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day in the 1st Lunar month, usually in February.

Lanterns will be set off and many people go to watch them fly high in the sky. It is traditional for people to eat sticky rice dumplings.

Children go out at night carrying paper lanterns. It is also common that they then solve riddles on the lanterns.

The origin and significance of the festival are unclear as there are many different possible origins and beliefs.

However, the roots most likely date back over 2000 years ago at the time of Buddhism.

Buddhist monks would light lanterns in the temple of the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, and as a result Emperor Ming of Han, the emperor at the time, ordered all the households and temples at the time to do so. From there, it developed into a custom!

Qingming Festival

Qingming Jie falls on either Apr. 4th or 5th. It is also known as Tomb-sweeping Day, giving an idea of what people get up to on that day.

It is a traditional day to go and visit your family’s ancestors’ tombs.

It is a time spent with family, and people may also go away and go travelling.

May Day

This Chinese national holiday isn’t celebrated with fireworks or a particular kind of food treat, it’s simply a day off work and a time to relax with friends, colleagues, or family.

It’s China’s Labor Day. People may go to the park to hang out together and have food and drinks, and play games.

It is also common for people to go to the park to have a BBQ or to dance and sing together.

Many Chinese people also choose this day to go shopping – so it’s probably not the best day to pick to buy your groceries!

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat festival in China falls on the 5th day in 5th lunar month.

The holiday is know is 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié) in Chinese.

This will usually be in June.

Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate an ancient Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC).

On this day, it is traditional to eat Zongzi, a sticky sweet rice triangle snack.

This Chinese holiday is also celebrated by holding boat races in boats shaped like dragons, hence the name.

Teams of 30 or 60 people paddle wooden dragon shaped boats accompanied by the sound of beating drums.

This is particularly still popular in the South of China.

For some key vocab check out our image here about Dragon Boat Festival.


Mid-Autumn Day

Mid-Autumn festival falls on the 15th day in 8th lunar month, usually in September.

Chinese people spend this time with the family, heading back to their hometown if it’s not too far and holding family reunions.

This is the time of year when you will get sick of eating the popular Mid-Autumn Festival snack – the mooncake.

In fact, if you manage to get through the festival without eating any, it’s pretty impressive. They are usually sweet, with a soft pastry outside and a smooth filling. The filling is usually sweet.

However, be warned. There are some weird flavours of mooncakes around, and the amount is increasing every year. Don’t trust any of your Western friends who give you a mooncake.

Chances are they want to see your reaction whilst biting into a sweet pastry filled with spicy beef, or it’s a cake they received from a Chinese friend that they don’t like the flavour of.

DID YOU KNOW – Some Vietnamese National Holidays have a cross over with the Chinese Holidays? Find out more in our blog post about Vietnam’s Public Holidays here.

National Day

Golden Week in China is generally celebrated by mass travel. 

Chinese people head back to their hometowns in Chinese New Year fashion or also travel to different popular tourist attractions in China.

Expect mass travelling during this week. So much so, that it’s best to leave the country or keep yourself locked behind closed doors.

If you have time off and wish to travel too, head to smaller cities if you want to stay in China and stay away from major tourist attractions.

For many Chinese people, this is one of the few times a year they can travel and visit different places around the Middle Kingdom.

A trip to the Great Wall at this time will see you in a crowd of thousands of people – unable to see anything but the head in front of you. If you don’t believe us, have a quick Google. Just don’t do it.

Christmas Day in China

Mainland China doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so there are no Chinese national holidays around the Christmas period. Only Hong Kong and Macao have public holidays for Christmas.

Despite this, the Christmas vibe is big! You’ll find Christmas trees and decorations around all of the shops and shopping centres.

Funnily enough sometimes, the following year in perhaps May, you’ll still see Merry Christmas banners still hanging from certain buildings, in true China style!

Shopping becomes particularly popular around this period and retail stores go wild in a bid to get the custom of the Chinese public!


Do shops stay open during Chinese Holidays?


In fact, Chinese national holidays are unlike a lot of holidays in the West in that shops and attractions are busier and more open than ever!

Many Chinese people travel on Chinese national holidays, especially during the long holidays of National Day and Chinese New Year.

This makes those periods tricky to travel during for Westerners since many tourist attractions are packed with Chinese tourists. Also, prices for food and accommodation get a lot higher.

So, it is strongly recommended NOT to travel during these times.

Do Chinese celebrate Christmas?

No they do not, however despite this, the bigger cities of China will still decorate shopping malls and supermarkets with Christmas Trees and Santa’s.

Although Christmas Day is a working day in China, you will still feel it’s presence somewhat.

Do Chinese celebrate New Year’s Day?

Generally the New Year celebrations for China come when Chinese New Year arrives in January/February (1st day of the Lunar Calendar).

The international New Year is much less significant in China.

What is the most important holiday in China?

Chinese New Year is always the most important.

All Chinese return home to their families and celebrate for the holiday which extends to 7 days using the Chinese holiday system.

Golden Week (October 1st-7th) is another important holiday but this is widely used to travel with family/friends instead of going home.

Is Chinese New Year always the same date?

No, it will change each year.

Typically Chinese New Year would be around the end of January to mid February.

When does “Golden Week” start?

October 1st, which is the National Day of China.

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    Irene Magnosi, Student Advisor

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