Closing time at Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square is a major tourist attraction located in the heart of Beijing, so you’d thinking finding out the closing time would be easy – but you’d be wrong!

Haze fills the air at Tiananmen Square as the sun starts to set

Time to pay a visit

I visited Tiananmen Square after a long day of sightseeing, and the sun was starting to go down.

Sun starts to go down at Tiananmen Square

When soldiers from the Beijing Garrison Honor Guard Battalion marched in.

PLA soldiers march past for the start of the flag lowering ceremony

A crowd soon formed.

Waiting for the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

Around the central flagpole.

Red flag flies over Tiananmen Square

Out came the mobile phone cameras.

Mobile phone snappers at the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

A sea of LCD screens.

Mobile phone snappers at the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

As the soldiers took their positions.

Mobile phone snappers at the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

To lower the flag.

Mobile phone snappers at the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

And it’s down.

Mobile phone snappers at the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

The soldiers then marched off again.

Soldiers depart following the flag lowering ceremony at Tiananmen Square

Leaving the tourists to mill around.

Night falls following the flag lowering ceremony in Tiananmen Square

Taking happy snaps.

Happy snaps at twilight in Tiananmen Square

But then out of nowhere appear police vans.

Police chase the public out of Tiananmen Square at closing time

Shepherding the crowds out of the square.

Police car chases out the last few visitors from Tiananmen Square

Most took the hint, but a a few stragglers were left behind.

Police car chases out the last few visitors from Tiananmen Square

As the cleaners started work.

Closing time at Tiananmen Square, as the cleaners start work

I then got chased out as well.

Police car chases out the last few visitors from Tiananmen Square

Out of Tiananmen Square, and back onto the street.

Police car chases out the last few visitors from Tiananmen Square

Where I found the soldiers marching back to their barracks.

Chinese soldiers march back to their barracks following the flag lowering ceremony at Tiananmen Square

Followed by plain clothed police offices.

Undercover police march back to their barracks following their day at Tiananmen Square

Leaving the square locked up until sunrise the next day.

Tiananmen Square locked up for the night

So what time does Tiananmen Square close?

For some reason many website quote “10 pm” as the closing time – but that didn’t match my experience at Tiananmen Square.

However visitor in 2009 had the similar experience as me.

Saw the lowering of the national flag, lots of soldiers looking official. Within minutes of the flag coming down, police directed people off the square with angry yells and gestures. I would not like to get these guys pissed off! Smiled at one of the police, he did not smile back!

This tourist website describes closing time more politely.

After the flag-lowering ceremony, the police will politely ask members of the crowd to stop lingering.

As does this Canadian journalist.

The police presence (both uniformed and plain clothes) is immense.

This force leaps into action immediately following the flag ceremony, as the Square is systematically evacuated. Police cars, trucks and armoured vehicles come out of nowhere and corral the thousands of onlookers out of the Square in a matter of minutes.

This is a practised and efficient drill. We watch in amazement as we, along with the rest of the crowd, are herded towards the several exit points leaving the Square.

While someone on Tripadvisor says don’t even bother with the flag lowering ceremony.

Some people actually spend hours waiting for it. But there’s really nothing much, all done in silence. An anti-climax. And immediately after the ceremony, the security will clear everyone out from the square. That’s the time when the lights come on at the Forbidden Palace across the road, which presents a great photo opportunity.

And finally – an answer

I eventually found the closing time thanks to the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality – Tiananmen Management Committee – on a Chinese-language only webpage.

Question: Closing time of Tiananmen Square

Reply: Hello, the daily opening hours of Tiananmen Square are about one hour before the flag is raised and the end of the flag is lowered.

As well as the possible source of the “10 pm” closing time – that’s when the lights get switched off.

Question: What time does the night lighting time of Tiananmen Gate Tower end?

Response: According to the “Notice on Printing and Distributing Beijing Night View Lighting Management Measures” of the General Office of the Beijing Municipal People’s Government:

  • Weekday closing time: from May 1st to September 30th, at 22:00 every day. From October 1st to April 30 of the following year, it will be 21:30 every day.
  • General holiday closing time: from May 1st to September 30th, at 22:30 every day. From October 1st to April 30th of the following year, at 22:00 every day.
  • major holidays: Closing time: 24 o’clock every day.

The turn-on time is uniformly turned on with the road lighting.

So closing time at Tiananmen Square is sunset, and don’t even try to hang around!

Footnote: security everywhere

Entering Tiananmen Square requires running the gauntlet of security.

Pedestrian crossing leading into Tiananmen Square

Bags and ID get checked at the gatehouse before entering the square.

Security checkpoint at an entrance to Tiananmen Square

With long lines in peak times.

Visitors wait in the security line before entering Tiananmen Square

And once inside, police are everywhere.

Police van on patrol at Tiananmen Square

With police cars.

Police cars parked in the middle of Tiananmen Square

Vans.

Police van on patrol at Tiananmen Square

And armoured trucks.

Police truck parked opposite Tiananmen Square

And another thing…

One thing you won’t see at Tiananmen Square is advertising, including on passing buses.

Buses and bike riders on Chang'an Avenue, beside Tiananmen Square

The reason – Beijing Municipality’s Measures for the Administration of the Installation of Outdoor Advertisements.

Article 9  

It is forbidden to install outdoor advertising facilities on the Tiananmen Square area and within 100 meters on the east and west sides of the square.

Article 10:

Passing vehicles with body advertisements are prohibited from the section of Chang’an Avenue from the west of Wangfujing Intersection (excluding Wangfujing Intersection) to the east of Xidan Intersection (excluding Xidan Intersection) and the Tiananmen Square area . However, vehicles temporarily called for due to large-scale events are excluded.

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