Beijing Time (GMT+8)
11:56 pm Nov 03
Among all the capital cities in the world, Beijing may not rank ahead in the field of climate’s own attractiveness. But among all the capital cities, Beijing may still proudly triumph in other ranking tables thanks to how the weather interacts with the cultural landscapes. The best season to appreciate its natural richness lies in autumn, namely September to October - nearly no flaws to criticize, but it totally depends upon personal preference as some loyal fans still regard its winter as a time of shrine and happiness. Beijing is an unusual inland city that suffers continental climate around 40 degrees northern latitude yet has many highlights to laud upon its four seasons.
The wind has played a significant role in forming and distinguishing the seasons’ characteristics. Sometimes it acts as the monsoon element that brings about the heavy shower in summer. Sometimes the ones from the Mongolian plateau just trigger sandstorms that cut down the spring’s beauty. Sometimes wind just offers seasonings to a rhythmic outskirt excursion. And sometimes wind is resisted by the mountains of the vicinity and then helps raise the temperature in winter. In a word, without wind, the typical continental climate would be a little austere for traveling, which always renders longer summer and winter, plus much discrepant daily and yearly temperature. In Beijing wind somewhat offsets the disadvantages or draws people’s attention to other distinct features. Wind matters in Beijing.
Spring in Beijing is shorter than the average 3 months. The latter half of March to early May is the time for flowers blossoming. And it’s a sudden blossom that bursts out of the heavy snow in winter as if knowing the season is too short to prepare themselves. Whether it’s yulan magnolia, or Chinese flowering crabapple, or Japanese cherry, they all dress up in parks, sideways, or diverse campuses, to comfort visitors’ dissatisfaction with the haze or the catkins.
While you still can’t take off the thick jacket until the temperature goes up to 15-20℃ in April or early May in case of catching flue. It seldom rains however, which quite compensates other perhaps shortcomings. The cherry blossoming in Yuyuantan Park has evolved into a significant festival that you really can’t miss.
Beijing's summer is humid and hot. It’s quite usual to have a 35℃ temperature in consecutive days, or to replace the sunny weather into unstoppable heavy showers. In summer, quietly listening to the cicadas’ singing in a hutong, or sheltering from the sudden rain under a royal roof can be very contextual and artistic. And summer is itself an impetus to push those who are used to such a stable cultural superstructure as Beijing to the suburbs that are creeks and rivers prone, and that are valley dotted, for bungee-jumping or rafting.
In those extremely hot July or August, some residents would rather travel to northern provinces for a “chilling” holiday, exactly like those ancient Chinese emperors. For travelers however, it would be very rewarding to explore Summer Palace, National Museum of China or the Old Summer Palace in the evening. The appreciation about these ample cultural landscapes can be irrelevant to weather.
Autumn is the golden season for Beijing, both literally and justifiably for its deep exploration. It’s the season that would make photographers crazy, and it’s the season that resembles how the paradise looks like, as someone comments. From September to early November, the weather has gradually adjusted to its best state. It seldom rains and the sky is high and so crystally clear: 15-20℃ has rendered you no bother from the weather.
There is a long list of where to go but the best recommendations surely include the Fragrant Hill, where layers of colourful leaves would intoxicate your vision, the Temple of Heaven and the Temple of Earth for imperial remains, or just a random choice on any of the campuses in Beijing. It’s the season favoured by writers that ingeniously inset the nostalgic emotion about the past royal glory into the autumn imagery. And it’s the season of both natural relaxation and cultural retrospection.
Beijing’s winter is filled with childhood innocence, especially when the temperature drops down below 0℃ in December. People welcome the snow sincerely, for its predictive function for an upcoming fruitful year, and for the snowmen creation, like the playground on lakes for skating and snow-capped scenery. Other months without snow, such as October or February can be cruel because of the windy atmosphere that is both cold and dry.
The profound reason for the adoration towards winter perhaps, lies in that it sweeps away those vicissitudes onset by substitution of dynasties after dynasties in this place, and restore Beijing’s spirit that is more family and unitedness oriented.
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