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10 ways to ace the May holiday in Shanghai

Make the most of your five days of freedom

Photograph: courtesy Space Panda (Bellagio Season Opening)
Rejoice, the Labour Day holiday has finally arrived, starting on Saturday 1 May and carrying over into the next week through Wednesday 5. That means five straight days off work and, if you’re not off exploring another part of China, there’s loads of ways to maximise your time off right here in the big city. From brunches to rooftop parties, art and just sticking on good ol’ film, here’s how to make the most of the May holiday in Shanghai.
Brunch the holiday away

Brunch the holiday away

Shanghai holidays and brunch…name a better love story. During the break there’s boozy at the always-reliable Bull & Claw or over the top at The Westin where the theme for this Sunday is ‘Spring Break’ – expect the DIY drinks station to be put into good use for that. For less rowdy vibes The Cannery and Abbey Road are offering five days of it (Sat 1- Wed 5), both with nice patios, both pet-friendly. 


Looking for something new? Indian restaurant Klay is also serving up brunch for the full five days and is already making waves in the late morning eats scene – no surprise when dishes like tandoori meat burritos are coming out of the kitchen.

Party at high altitudes

Party at high altitudes

'Tis the season for rooftops and there’s a trio of open-air parties happening over the holiday where you can spend these warm spring nights (the weekend’s forecast actually looks more like summer) grooving to feel-good tunes high up in the sky with postcard views.


Starting Saturday, catch the opening of Bundside terrace CÉ LA Vi, before repeating the effort on Sunday at MVP Event’s tropical-themed bash at new Xuhui rooftop Mining Empire. If you’re still raring to go when Monday rolls around, there’s another party at the glitzy Bellagio Hotel, featuring a bumper lineup of well-known DJs.

Dance after Dark

Dance after Dark

If you’d rather be out of sight than outside when letting your hair down, we get that. Some dance moves probably look better in the dark anyway. The weekend sees the opening of hip-hop club Ninja's second location in Found 158 and avant-garde electronic label FunctionLab's 4-year anniversary at ALL. Elevator is putting on a slew of parties over the holiday period as well, beginning with house-focused night Jack 4 Jack (Fri 30), a label launch for techno heads HOODOO (Sat 1) and Snuff Disco at Kuai Le Da Wang (Sun 2). For those with the stamina to keep the party going into the week, there’s Poison Mind at X Bar (Tue 4) featuring a live performance from drag queen Africanah Laté.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

The May holiday is coinciding with Cinco de Mayo and that means Shanghai’s showing its love for all things Mexico – especially tacos and tequila. On Saturday, head to either Cages for its Uno De Mayo party or Found 158 for a huge celebration with special Mexican pizza at Homeslice and buy-one-get-one margaritas at Le Café des Stagiaires. 


Wheel yourself out of bed on Sunday for Mayita’s Fiesta that features a live mariachi performance and then again on Monday for Mexican-Indonesian inspired food at Perch (think beef rendang tacos and coconut churros). The official celebration occurs on Wednesday 5 May and for that take part in a taco eating contest at Tacolicious. Tap on the links or check the flyers below for details.

Spend some quality dog time

Spend some quality dog time

There are plenty of opportunities to hang out with your pup this holiday (or even adopt a new one). On Saturday, Spare Leash is pitching up at Bubba’s for a barbecue in the courtyard that also doubles as a pet adoption with tons of toys onsite from the likes of Pawsome, Beasty and Xolo. On Sunday, Linwards is hosting a dog brunch combined with a chilled yoga session at Moka Bros.


If you can't make Saturday's adoption event, Shanghai Animal Rescue are also organising another one at Paulaner Raffles Changning on Tuesday 4. Barbecues, yoga and brunch... Your new furry best friend will have your routine down within days.

Give your life a green overhaul

Give your life a green overhaul

With Earth Day still fresh in our memories keep Mother Nature in mind and use the break to start making some meaningful changes to your life. Take a green step forward at the eco-edition of the Commune Market (running from Saturday 1 to Wednesday 5) and shop sustainably with brands that are all about looking out for the environment like Ecalulu, Bisoubebe, Sober Beauty, Gurungan and Paper Tiger. If there was ever a time to give you home a guilt-free makeover, the holiday is it.

Kick back with a film and popcorn

Kick back with a film and popcorn

Holiday mode exists for a reason. Running around Shanghai after weeks (or months) of slogging it at work isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and we get that. Instead, slouch into the sofa and stick on a good film – perhaps one you’ve probably never seen before. If you do have an itch for a trip to the cinema, the battle between two of cinema's most iconic monsters – Godzilla vs Kong – is still being shown in theatres around town. Meanwhile, for Star Wars fans, it's May the 4th on Tuesday and you can pay your respects at Inferno with a screening of the 1987 spoof Spaceballs.

Go out, explore!

Go out, explore!

It goes without saying, but Shanghai is such a massive metropolis that there’s always something new to discover no matter how many times you’ve wandered around the lanes of Old Xuhui. Join city experts Historic Shanghai for a walk around Yuyuan Lu (Sun 2) or one that looks into China’s May Fourth Movement (Tue 4). If you’d rather just stand in clouds and see the city from above, head up 118 floors to the Shanghai Tower –  because it has to be ticked off the bucket list eventually.

Watch late-night Sunday sport with freedom

Watch late-night Sunday sport with freedom

Sunday nights are normally a bit of a niggly time for sports fans. It's nearly midnight, the second half has started, you’re already three beers down but you've got the threat of work looming in the background. With Monday off next week, that dilemma doesn’t exist so you can watch both Liverpool vs Manchester United (kick-off 11.30pm) and The Portuguese Grand Prix (starting 10pm) live at either The Camel or Cages.

Catch Shanghai’s coolest art exhibitions

Catch Shanghai’s coolest art exhibitions

We’ve got such a wealth of great art in Shanghai but sometimes the time isn’t always there to see it – busy big city life and all that. Fortunately, five days off gives us the needed hours to get cracking. There’s pioneering abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky's heavyweight exhibition at The West Bund Museum, opening over the weekend with hundreds of his paintings, drawings and engravings on display. Plus the 13th Shanghai Biennale exhibition is in full swing and occupying seven floors of The Power Station of Art. It’s also a chance to see Chen Fei’s first Shanghai solo exhibition at YUZ Project Space of Art (inside YUZ Museum) before it finishes early next month (Sunday 9 May). For more of Shanghai's top spring exhibitions, click here.

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