China celebrates the joy of spring

China celebrates the joy of spring

Enter the dragon

The ancient Longtaitou festival celebrates "the dragon raising its head" on the second day of the second month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when the hibernation season ends. The dragon is believed to be the king of all creatures and master of the weather. Honoring him at the start of the agricultural year encourages a good harvest later.

China celebrates the joy of spring

A new cycle begins

A farmer in Zouping County ploughs the soil in preparation for sowing. This is a busy time of year for communities living to the rhythm of nature's seasons, but also one of rural China's most beautiful.

China celebrates the joy of spring

Communing with the mountain god

The Miao people of southern China celebrate their spring festival by summoning Manggao, the mountain god. Young men adorn themselves in the mountain's lush new vegetation to take on the deity's persona and bring good luck to their community.

China celebrates the joy of spring

Spring feeling

The joy of spring must be one emotion we share with animals beyond our own species. Surely the first warm days and flowering of nature are as much of a relief to a songbird perched admist the cherry blossom as any human reveller?

China celebrates the joy of spring

Fields of gold

Luminously flowering rapeseed is grown for oil, used in both cooking and as a biofuel, and China is among the world's biggest producers. Monocultural rapeseed – or canola – oil production is an environmental concern in many parts of the world. But it certainly puts on a glorious display in spring.

China celebrates the joy of spring

A breath of fresh air

For all the beauty of China's countryside, its cities are famously polluted. Urbanites from Guangdong Province head to mountains to enjoy the weather and escape the smog. Locals cash in on their prized air by bagging it up and selling it to the visitors.

China celebrates the joy of spring

Changing seasons

Bauhinia in Liuzhou City. Known in some parts of the world as the orchid tree or mountain ebony, bauhinia comes in a kaleidoscope of colors – from red through pink to purple, orange and yellow – and fills the air with a sweet fragrance. Among the first trees to blossom in late winter, it's a welcome sign that spring is finally on the way.

China celebrates the joy of spring

A long way from Holland

It could be a scene from the Netherlands, but this windmill and field of tulips are actually among the attractions at Shangfang Mountain, northern China's biggest national park, close the capital of Beijing. Beyond the gardens are wilder landscapes, with dense woodland and ancient trees.

China celebrates the joy of spring

A picture of spring

Turning the landscape delicate shades of pink and white, what could better signify springtime in China than the country's national flower – plum blossom? Two women in Chongqing make the iconic blooms the backdrop to a seasonal selfie.

Spring has finally sprung! It's a time to rejoice in nature – and perhaps nowhere does it better than the land of plum blossom.