Top ChoiceClassical Music in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

National Centre for the Performing Arts

National Centre for the Performing Arts

Plonked in the middle of an artificial lake like an alien spaceship, the Paul Andreu–designed NCPA (aka 'The Egg') is a surreal yet spectacular venue at which to catch a performance of opera (Western and...

Top ChoiceLive Music in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

Jiang Hu

A hip hutong livehouse popular with local musicians, Jiang Hu stages folk, blues, jazz and open-mic shows most nights in its wood-beamed courtyard space. The owner, a trombone player, regularly joins in for a jam.

Spectator Sport in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

Workers' Stadium

One of Mao's '10 Great Buildings' erected in 1959 to mark a decade of the People's Republic of China, the Workers' Stadium was built to hold 80,000 people, and staged several Mass Games here during the early...

Peking Opera in Dashilar & Xicheng South

Huguang Guild Hall

Huguang Guild Hall

The most atmospheric Peking opera house in town (it was undergoing refurbishment at time of research, so fingers crossed it stays that way...), Huguang Guild Hall was founded in 1807 and converted to a theatre a...

Peking Opera in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Chang'an Grand Theatre

The opera mask on the forecourt is the only giveaway, save for the Chinese sign, that this modern block is actually an opera house. Chang'an Grand is more a place for connoisseurs than tour groups, with seating...

Live Music in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North


Local bands, cabaret, salsa dancing and life drawing are just some of the antics unfolding nightly at this arty, Jazz-Age-styled bar and performance space. A crescent of balcony tables overhangs the stage, a fun...

Live Music in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central


In a secluded hutong, Dusk Dawn Club is the place to catch small and mid-sized bands, from post-rock noise outfits to folk strummers, both Chinese and international. Established by a collective of local...

Jazz in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

East Shore Jazz Bar

Rock star Cui Jian’s saxophonist, whose quartet plays here, opened this dark and moody upstairs jazz den overlooking Qianhai Lake. It’s the best place to hear local jazz cats showing off their chops, with live...

Classical Music in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Forbidden City Concert Hall

Considered one of the city's best venues for acoustics, the Forbidden City Concert Hall is the modern successor to an open-air stage built inside regal Zhongshan Park by the Japanese in 1942. It's a wonderfully...

Chinese Opera in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

Mei Lanfang Grand Theatre

Named after China’s most famous practitioner of Peking opera, this modern theatre has around 1000 seats and is home turf for the prestigious China National Peking Opera Company, of which Mei Lanfang was the first...

Cinema in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

Broadway Cinematheque MOMA

The closest Beijing has to a genuine art-house cinema. Regular mini-festivals cover various genres as well as the usual Hollywood blockbusters. Find it inside the stylish MOMA residential compound, along with...

Acrobatics in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

Chaoyang Theatre

Chaoyang Theatre

Beijing's premier acrobatic show is a rapid-fire fiesta of youthful acrobats, gymnasts, contortionists and daredevils, who between them pull off some heart-in-the-mouth stunts. The theatre itself has seen better...

Jazz in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Blue Note

A classy, subterranean live-music venue staging high-profile international jazz, blues and fusion musicians. The historical Legation Quarter setting gives it the feel of a posh night out. Seating is at tables,...

Live Music in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

School Bar

Distorted guitars rule at this divey mainstay of Beijing's underground-music scene. Punk, garage, indie and metal bands dominate, plus the occasional DJ show.

Live Music in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

Yue Space

Check out up-and-coming Chinese bands at this arty, 500-capacity livehouse, which also stages movie screenings and cultural events.

Cinema in Dashilar & Xicheng South

Daguanlou Cinema

Dingjun Mountain, an excerpt of Peking opera believed to be the first Chinese film, was screened at this historical cinema back in 1905. Remarkably, you can still catch a film on the same spot, although the...

Peking Opera in Dashilar & Xicheng South

Liyuan Theatre

This touristy theatre in the Qianmen Jianguo Hotel has nightly performances of Peking opera complete with English subtitles. The setting isn’t traditional: it resembles a cinema auditorium (the stage facade is...

Acrobatics in Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

Red Theatre

The daily show is The Legend of Kung Fu, which follows one boy’s journey to become a warrior monk. Slick, high-energy fight scenes are interspersed with more soulful dance sequences, plus plenty of ‘how do they...

Performing Arts in Dashilar & Xicheng South

Lao She Teahouse

Lao She Teahouse

Named after the celebrated Chinese novelist and dramatist whose works include the play Teahouse, the nightly shows at this tourist-oriented complex are entirely unrelated to Lao She. Instead you get snippets of...

Cinema in Sanlitun & Chaoyang


Conveniently situated in the basement of the Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping mall, this swish multiplex usually shows at least one or two English-language releases.