An aerial view of Daxing Village, Huayuan County, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan Province, China. (Photo: VCG)
The Ganqiu Festival is one of the grandest and most traditional celebrations for the Miao ethnic group in China. It originated from Huayuan County in western Hunan Province, and is popular also in the counties of Fenghuang, Jishou, Luxi and a few others. It falls on the day of Liqiu, the 13th out of the 24 solar terms, representing the start of autumn. In agrarian societies, solar calendar systems function as indicators for weather, season, and other factors that impact farming.
This year, the festival lasts from August 8 to September 23.
During Ganqiu Festival, people take a day off from working, and hope for a good upcoming harvest by celebrating it in advance. The other theme of Ganqiu is offering young people a chance to mingle and express admiration for each other, still borrowing, and honoring, how people in ancient times would do it: singing and riding swings that could hold eight people at a time.
Ganqiu, with its activities, was enlisted as a national intangible culture in 2014, and a UNESCO intangible culture later in 2016.
Besides the intangible culture, the counties mentioned above are all tourist destinations. Huayuan County, the birthplace of the festival, is at a convenient crossroads of routes to famous tourist spots such as the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Mount Fanjing.
The county of Fenghuang is another famous destination, with roads and architectures from the Ming and Qing Dynasties of China well preserved.