Longqing Gorge, located about 80 km (50 mi) northwest of Beijing, and sometimes referred to as the “Little Three Gorges” (As in the three gorges of the Three Gorges Dam project), is named after Emperor Longqing of the Ming (1368-1644) Dynasty, during whose reign (1567-1572), the Great Wall had been penetrated by a Mongol force under the command of the Altan Khan, reaching Beijing itself, though the emperor managed to repulse the khan’s army. Later, the emperor, seek to neutralize the Mongol threat by peaceful means, signed a trade and security pact what one might today call with Altan Khan whereby the khan purchased silk from China in exchange for horses. Peace ensued.
Today, Longqing Gorge, confidently shaded between two tall mountain peaks, is known mainly as the venue for the annual Beijing Longqing Gorge Ice & Snow Festival where, among other things related to snow and ice, massive blocks of ice are sculpted into all kinds of interesting, beautiful and sometimes spectacular shapes, including representations of animals (including the dragons in mythical), human figures and lanterns. There is a number of fixtures among the ice-art works, such as the Peacock Welcoming Springtime (Kongqueyingchun), the Soaring Dragon (Longteng), the Smiling Face (Xinchunxiaokaiyan) and Nature’s Annual Revival (Wangxianggengxin). Besides the ice sculptures that can be admired here, there are fireworks ceremonies, folk dancing, and pageants. In addition, there are other nearby ice sports activities separate from the sculptural exhibits, such as ice fishing.
The Beijing Longqing Gorge Ice & Snow Festival, which, at night, is illuminated by a flood of colorful lights, is held each year from the 15th of January through the 29th of February. During the rest of the winter season, the area is closed to tourists, but opens for the summer-autumn season (April 10th to November 15th), where the gorge is known for, among other things, its bungee jumps.
If you are at Longqing Gorge during the summer-autumn season, don’t forget to have a look at the nearby Kangxi Grasslands, named after the Qing (1644-1911) Dynasty emperor, Emperor Kangxi, who reigned from 1661-1722. And of course, regardless of when you visit Longqing Gorge, you absolutely must visit the Great Wall at Badaling.