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December 23, 2009

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From food and frolic to reflection

FROM pursuits of the spirit to more worldly Christmas cheer, Shanghai has an abundance of activities to satisfy those looking to get into the festive spirit.

Along with many functions at restaurants and nightspots, there are church services and family activities.

For those looking to outsource the Christmas feast, there is everything from sumptuous roast turkey dinners with all the trimmings to quick and easy Christmas-themed fast-food burgers.

On Christmas Day, Mexican favorite Maya will put away the tacos and enchiladas and pull out all the stops for a deluxe Christmas meal. Diners tomorrow and on Friday can get a range of delicacies, including brandied lobster chowder with lime cream, romesco-roasted cod over lobster, mashed potatoes, masa-crusted hot chocolate mousse with egg-nog ice cream. The set menu costs 375 yuan and comes with a glass of mulled wine or sangria.

Spiritual reflection on the Christmas message can be sought from a range of church services across Shanghai on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Shanghai's largest Protestant church, the Hengshan Community Church, will hold services in English at 7pm on Christmas Eve and at 10am and 7pm on Christmas Day. The gothic church was built in 1925 in Xuhui District and has one of the better choirs in the city.

For a touch of history, churchgoers can attend St Francis Xavier Church, or Dongjiadu Road Church, the first foreign-built church in Shanghai. It holds services in Chinese and English. The Christmas Eve service is at 9pm and Christmas Day services will be held at 10:30am and 12.:0pm.

If more decadent revelry is more your yuletide style, then Shanghai's nightspots have everything from Christmas babes to burlesque extravaganzas on offer.

Shanghai's self-proclaimed home of burlesque, Chinatown, will put on a special Christmas Eve show with free egg nog, mulled wine and beer from 8pm to 11pm. Details of the vaudeville, cabaret show are being kept under wraps but there are sure to be some high-kicking Santa's helpers and naughty elves to fire up the Christmas spirit. Tickets cost 220 yuan.

Sin nightclub will also be doing titbits to make festive pulses rise with a battle of the Santa Babes. It's a fur-trimmed beauty parade with punters voting who is the hottest beauty to warm up a cold Christmas in Shanghai.

Finally, when all that Christmas excess has taken its toll, lovers of Shanghai history or those just looking to walk off the Christmas turkey can join the Royal Asiatic Society's Peter Hibbard as he leads a walking tour through former foreign settlements.

The walk will highlight how the boundaries were originally drawn and how that still shapes the city today. Hibbard sprinkles the walk with colorful anecdotes and stories about the city's fascinating cast of historical characters.

Tickets cost 100 yuan for members and 200 yuan for non-members and the walk will go from 2pm to 5:30pm. For more information, visit the society's Website at


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