• Blog
  • Things to do Blogs

Fun (and free!) activities to get you through Dry January

Cheap and hangover-free ways to get through January

January 2017. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we're broke. Time to find some liver- and wallet- friendly ways to get through the next few weeks


See some Beijing art

Beijing is home to some of the most cutting-edge contemporary art in the world – there are plenty of galleries to discover in the hutongs, or if you fancy travelling further afield you could check out Caochangdi. Caochangdi is home to dozens of artists and their studios (including Ai Wei Wei’s), and has a peaceful ambience perfect for wandering through the galleries.

One of our top picks at the moment is Li Gang’s exhibition at Galerie Urs Meile, which focuses on the idea of ‘the aesthetics of imperfection’. Out to the east of Beijing at the sixth ring road, you can also find Songzhuang art colony, which is home to yet more under the radar Chinese artists.

Drink and Draw


Drink and Draw is a weekly drawing class held at Modernista with live models and prizes for the best sketches at the end of each evening. The workshop is free, but you need to bring your own materials.

Modernista. 9.30pm. Every Tuesday. Free.

Health and Wellness

Beijing Roller Derby


Roller derby is a contact sport played on wheels with a distinctly feminist bent - it's probably most famous these days from the 2009 film Whip It. Strap on your skates (or borrow some from the team) and release your inner Ellen Page.

Tuanjiehu Park. 7-8.30pm. Every Tuesday. Free.


The Beijing Mindfulness Centre meets this month to celebrate the 'feminine energy and emotional tides' of the full moon. Boys are welcome too, as long as you can say ‘Oooohhmmmm’.

Beijing Mindfulness Centre. 7.30pm. Thursday 12. Free.


Hit up this free salsa class at Migas every Monday – after all, dancing like a Colombian cliché certainly didn't do Shakira any harm.

Migas. 8.30-9.30pm. Every Monday. Free.



Kizomba is a very sensual Angolan dance. Learn how to kizomba for yourself at the free weekly classes at Migas.

Migas. 8.30-9.30pm. Every Tuesday. Free.


Beijing Bookworm Book Club


Wish Lanterns is the debut book from Beijing writer Alec Ash. It tells the stories of six Chinese millennials navigating youth culture in modern China. If you’ve read it already, or fancy curling up with in the next few days, join other readers at the Beijing Bookworm for a discussion and Q&A with the author.

Beijing Bookworm. 7.30pm. Wednesday 11. Free.

Beijing Writers’ Network


This English-language group provides feedback on each other’s creative writing endeavours, as well as general discussion on a writing-based theme. New Year’s resolution to try something new? This is the perfect motivation to put pen to paper and finally start that novel. Okay, so this one isn't free, but it's practically free!

Café Zarah. 7.30pm. Monday 9 and Monday 23. 20RMB.

The WOW Collective

The fortnightly WOW Collective meeting at the Beijing Bookworm is a gathering of budding writers. Each meeting is hosted by a different member, who provides prompts for guests to get their creative juices flowing.

Beijing Bookworm. 7pm. Wednesday 18. Free.

Storytelling at 4corners

The hip Gulou bar hosts a free storytelling night every Wednesday, where guests can tell each other weird and wonderful anecdotes and immerse themselves in the lives of others for a few hours.

4corners. 9pm. Every Wednesday. Free.

Around town

Beijing Pond Hockey Tournament


Four-a-side ice hockey teams from around Asia battle each other outside the Military Museum. All spectators must bring a passport or Chinese ID to enter.

China Millenium Monument. 8am-4pm. Saturday 14. Free.

Get out of Beijing with a day trip

Another idea for a sober Sunday is to take a trip to the outskirts of Beijing. In just a couple of hours, you can escape the smog and discover pagodas, temples and natural wonders to complement your virtuous feelings. Xishan Park and Fenghuangling Nature Park are both accessible by public transport, and you can find a whole list of other suggestions in our day trips guide.


Ball of Fire (1941)


Every Tuesday in January, Pop-Up Beijing is screening a classic film. Ball of Fire is a screwball comedy about a group of professors writing an encyclopaedia and their encounter with a nightclub dancer.

Pop-Up Beijing. 7.30pm. Tuesday 10. Free.

The Ladykillers (1955)


The Ladykillers is a classic British black comedy about a group of criminals who move into the house of an unsuspecting old lady and plot heists from her kitchen table. The Coen brothers remade this in 2004, moving the setting from London to Mississippi – make sure you’ve seen the original as well.

Pop-Up Beijing. 7.30pm. Tuesday 17. Free.

Monkey Business (1952)


Monkey Business is a comedy starring Cary Grant as an absent-minded scientist who accidentally drinks an elixir of youth, and embarks on screwball antics with his boss’s secretary, played by Marilyn Monroe. The adage of the film is, 'you’re only old when you forget you’re young'.

Pop-Up Beijing. 7.30pm. Tuesday 24. Free.

Read more