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Chinese New Year in Shanghai is crazy (see for yourself)

chinesenewyearshanghai2006.jpgChinese New Year in Shanghai. I have to imagine there is nothing quite like it in the world. It is loud, chaotic, beautiful, violent, smokey, exhilarating, drunken, dangerous and red. It is 2:59 a.m. and I can still hear fireworks in the distance. They started before dark Saturday evening and built to a riotous climax at midnight. We’re talking fireworks — not firecrackers[1] — the big, light-up-the-sky kind. And they are set off in every neighborhood, from almost every street corner, and often right in the middle of the street. Again, again and again. The city glows. It ignites. It howls and cackles. It is warlike in a way. It is a spectacle that begs to be experienced.

But, I understand that is not possible for all of you. So, I’ll try to give you a taste. We watched the madness from a great location, the rooftop of a tall apartment high-rise downtown. I won’t say the exact location, because the way we accessed the roof was a little … um … sketchy. But it was worth it. Here are two video clips, one from the bottom of the building, and one from the top:

View from the ground, 11:59 p.m. (10.9 MB)
View from above ground, 12:06 a.m. (7.6 MB)

I took several photos, too. And some of them were actually almost in focus. Actually, a couple ended up looking pretty cool:

Chinese New Year in Shanghai album at Flickr

Brad has some truly spectacular fireworks photos, too. They start right here.

Okay, I need to get some sleep. I’ve sobered up now, and I have a feeling the war is going to resume outside my window in a few hours. Each morning starts with a bang for the better part of week. Gotta love Spring Festival — or else it will drive you crazy.

Happy Year of the Dog, everyone!

Direct link to the photo above right here. No one was hurt during filming.

[1] But, yes, there are plenty of firecrackers, too.

01.29.2006, 2:57 AM · Diary, Photos, Video


  1. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

  2. I live in Beijing. Our fireworks were better.

    So there. Nyah!


  3. Oh Beijing. You try so hard. -patpat-

  4. *sigh* I miss Shanghai New Years so much… it just doesn’t compare in New York. We had those tube things that threw streamers into the air, but no fireworks… those are illegal here right? I was mildly entertained by throwing those little poppers onto the ground, but nothing beats setting off your own cacaphonia of lights (purchased for under 100 kuai!). We used to do it from the rooftop of our building near Huai Hai Lu… sometimes we’d put music to it too and pretend it was like some Disney Magical Show.

    Here we just walked around Mott Street and saw some teenagers lion dance for… what I’m guessing was money from participating restaurants. And then just when some Chinese concert was getting started in Chinatown, festivities were cut short because it started to rain.

    I did get to eat some soup dumplings… I mean Xiao Long Bao(!!) at a nearby restaurant, but they were flat and ugly. I MISS SHANGHAI!

  5. Most of us just try to get away from it after the novelty wears off in the first year. Sorry to be a partypooper but there is a limit to your patience when the damn things are set off in the wee hours of the morning with no regard for people trying to sleep. I say yes, go ahead with the fireworks but please keep it to a reasonable time slot. Plus, drivers could you please turn off your car alarms during this time? i pretty much doubt if anyone would want to steal your piece of junk (or have the means to) at this happy time of the year. And if it did go off (for real), you’ll probably dismiss it anyway. (“oh, another firecracker set off my car, I’ll go back to bed”)