What is changing about Beijing?
Traffic, for one, is getting better. There are more subway lines; there’s Mobike – an inexpensive, cashless and station-less bicycle-sharing system. The skyline is always transforming itself as a number interesting new buildings join the fold. The arts scene is being developed, especially in Caochangdi, Huangtie and Hongchang.
What upcoming events can we look forward to?
This May, the country kicks off its One Belt, One Road initiative with a Beijing summit to discuss the $40m Silk Road project promoting intercontinental trade. September’s annual Beijing Design Week brings together local and international talents. In October, Beijing Fashion Week sees the season’s hottest new looks unveiled.
Where would you direct someone with a love for music?
Music lovers should check out the live shows at Blue Note, an outpost of the famous NYC jazz club. The National Centre for the Performing Arts is housed in a striking, Paul Andreu-designed titanium building, and is a great place to take in an opera or classical concert.
What is your artistic or cultural highlight of the moment?
Definitely the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional event celebrating the harvest. It’s held in late September to early October. There are brightly lit lanterns everywhere – whether carried, hanging from towers, or floating in the sky – and it’s customary to make and share mooncakes, whose round shape symbolises a sense of completeness and family unity. The Spring Festival is just as interesting. Firecrackers are set off to scare away evil spirits, there are folk-dance performances and visitors can sample all manner of local delicacies typical of the season.
On a more permanent footing, what are your most beloved art fixtures in the city?
The National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, is a beautiful feat of architecture. Built for the 2008 Olympic Games, its outlandish exterior was designed to resemble soap bubbles. The colossal, mixed-use SOHO Galaxy complex is marked by graceful layers of curves and bridges – the work of the legendary Zaha Hadid Architects. The folk-based Red Brick Art Museum in the city’s northeast brags an equally compelling design, nine exhibition spaces and a scenic courtyard garden. Today Art Museum showcases contemporary Chinese art at the very heart of the CBD. Caochangdi, an urban village in Chaoyang, is becoming an art hub full of exciting galleries.