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    The procrastinator’s guide to last-minute travel for Chinese New Year
    Here’s our guide to taking a Chinese New Year trip at short notice
     Qinhuai River in front of the Confucius Temple During the Lantern Festival, Nanjing. Credit: Getty Images
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    So you forgot to book your Chinese New Year travel? Don’t fret. We have you covered with this roundup of last-minute travel ideas that will ensure a fun-filled welcome to the new year. All you need to do is decide how far you want to go…

    (Not going away? Skip to our guide to celebrating Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.)

    Camellias in Kunming. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    China: Stay Close for the Long Weekend

    Kunming

    While much of China is freezing, Kunming, the capital of southern China’s Yunnan province, remains the City of Eternal Spring. The Kunming Camellia Festival is a highlight – but tulips and magnolias make an appearance, too. And while Kunming has established landmarks like the Stone Forest and Green Lake Park, it’s the city’s role as a strategic centre for the Belt and Road initiative that has it really changing. Since its 2016 debut, the Kunming South Railway Station has opened the region up to convenient high-speed services to northwestern Yunnan, Guiyang and across to Shanghai.

    Where to celebrate the new year: Lantern Festival at Grand View Park

    Chinese New Year in Nanjing. Credit: Liu jianhua nj/Imaginechina

    Credit: Liu jianhua nj/Imaginechina

    Nanjing

    Nanjing is home to the Qinhuai International Lantern Festival, the largest of its kind in China. Starting before the Spring Festival – as the holiday is commonly known in China –and finishing on Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the new year), the area around the Confucius Temple transforms into a world of lantern sculptures, performances, lion dances and food. While in Nanjing, you’ll probably want to explore the city’s cultural history – there are ancient walls, gates, monuments and museums galore.

    Where to celebrate the new year: Qinhuai International Lantern Festival at Confucius Temple

    Gulangyu in Xiamen. Credit: Shutterstock

    Credit: Shutterstock

    Xiamen

    This port city on China’s southeastern coast is one of the country’s most popular domestic destinations for the Spring Festival. Gulangyu, the rocky island of colonial architecture, should be on your agenda, along with picturesque strolls through Xiamen University and Xiamen Botanical Garden. For something more active, cycle along the 7.6-kilometre elevated bike path – the longest in the world – which runs beneath the Bus Rapid Transit line from Xian Hou BRT station in the north to Hong Wen station in the south.

    Where to celebrate the new year: Haicang District Spring Festival Lantern Show at Haicang Culture Center Square

    The Skyslide in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Marc Flores/Getty Images

    Credit: Marc Flores/Getty Images

    Beyond Asia: Go Further, Stay Longer

    Los Angeles, US

    The beaches are probably not where you’ll be spending this Chinese New Year, even if you are in LA. Head to The Broad, a magnificent contemporary art museum that opened in late 2015. But one of the biggest draws for families and fans of JK Rowling’s books is quidditch – or more specifically, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter  at Universal Studios.

    Where to celebrate the new year: Chinatown’s Golden Dragon Parade, which has been staged for over a century

    The Met Breuer art space in New York City. Credit: Ed Lederman

    Credit: Ed Lederman

    New York City, US

    Yes, CNY in NYC is always a chilly affair. That also means it’s an off-peak time to visit, which works in the favour of those booking last-minute travel. Start with some art at the Met Breuer , the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new contemporary art space, then head over to the Whitney Museum of American Art  in the Meatpacking district. Get a new perspective atop One World Trade Center at the One World Observatory . If you’re wrapped up warmly, Bryant Park’s Winter Village  is the place to embrace the cold, with free-admission skating on its sprawling ice rink. Then treat yourself to a hearty meal at a nearby Chinese restaurant like Cafe China  or Hakkasan .

    Where to celebrate the new year: Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival  at Sara D Roosevelt Park

    Dubai Opera House at dusk. Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    Dubai, UAE

    Gorgeous weather, events aplenty and newly minted projects make Lunar New Year about the best time to visit Dubai. The Dubai Water Canal , a megaproject opened in 2016, links some of the liveliest lifestyle districts through bridges and promenades; other recent openings include the Deira Island’s night market, which counts 5,300 outlets and over 90 quayside cafes and restaurants. Elsewhere, catch a show at the futuristic Dubai Opera ; or indulge in some retail therapy at the massive Dubai Shopping Festival .

    Where to celebrate the new year: Fireworks at Burj Al Arab

    Hero image: Getty Images

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