In 2006, Dalian was selected as the most liveable city in China according to China Daily.
Standard Mandarin is usually spoken in Dalian because it is a city with people from various locations. But native Dalianites use a Dalian dialect, which belongs to the Jiao Liao Mandarin subgroup spoken in parts of Shandong and Liaoning provinces. Most of the original Dalianites were farmers and fishermen who had come from Shandong Province in a large population move, the Chuang Guandong, during which era Dalian was occupied by the Japanese as the Kwantung Leased Territory. The Dalian dialect incorporates a few loanwords from Japanese and Russian (very rare in Chinese), reflecting the history of foreign occupation.
Dalian cuisine is a branch of Shandong cuisine, with influence from Northeastern Chinese cuisine, and is widely known for its unique style of seafood dishes. The variety of seafood in Dalian includes fish, prawns, clams, crabs, scallops, sea urchins, oysters, sea cucumbers, mussels, lobsters, conches, abalone, algae, razor clams, urechis unicinctus, mantis shrimps, jellyfish and so on.
Colorful snowflake scallops (五彩雪花扇贝) is a local seafood dish, where egg white is made into snowflake-shape to embrace the scallops, with seasonal greens, carrot and hot pepper cut into small pieces as decorations on top.
Another popular local dish is Salted fish with corn cake (咸鱼饼子), where steamed or fried corn cake is served with fried salted fish. Legend goes that, in the old days fishermen going out fishing in the morning couldn’t return home to have lunch, so they baked fresh fish to eat with corn cakes, and the habit passed down from generation to generation and eventually became a famous food among local people.
Dalian Menzi (焖子) is a traditional local snack. A protein-rich starch paste coagulated from an extract of potatoes is cut into pieces and fried on a pan to create a crisp cover. A mixed seasoning of smashed garlic, sesame, and sauces is added on eating.
Other popular local specialties include Dalian-style grilled squid, seafood noodles, roast full prawns, salt baked conches, lantern-shaped steamed abalone, and so on.
Sports play a big role in the local culture. Dalian’s former association football club, Dalian Shide (formerly known as Dalian Wanda as the club was originally sponsored by the Dalian Wanda Group), achieved a total of eight titles from China’s top-tier football league, the Chinese Jia-A League and the later rebranded Chinese Super League, and was widely considered one of the most successful clubs in Chinese football history. In the Asian Football Confederation, the club reached the 1997–98 Asian Club Championship and 2000–01 Asian Cup Winners’ Cup finals. Several of China’s greatest players, including Sun Jihai, Hao Haidong and Li Ming, made their names with Dalian Shide. Dalian also produced many top Chinese football players thanks to its youth training system and grassroots football culture. As of the 2014 season of the Chinese Super League, out of the 448 registered Chinese players, a total of 71 players are from Dalian. Therefore, Dalian earned its nickname of China’s “Football City” (足球城), and a giant football statue was placed in the Labor Park near downtown Dalian in its honor. Current football clubs in the city are Dalian Yifang and Dalian Transcendence, which play in the country’s 2nd-tier league, the China League One. Their home stadiums are Dalian Sports Center Stadium and Jinzhou Stadium, respectively.
Some other popular sports played in Dalian are swimming, skiing, golf, cycling, bowling and billiards.
As part of the 2013 National Games of China in Liaoning in 2013, Dalian was a host city for 12 events, including synchronized swimming, field hockey, gymnastics, sailing and canoeing.
City-wide festivals and events
Xinghai Square, Dalian Xinghai Convention & Exhibitions Center, the Dalian World Expo Center and the hotels on Renmin Road are the main places where Dalian’s major annual events are held.
Every year from January to February, the Bingyugou Ice Lantern Festival is held in Bingyugou Scenic Area in Zhuanghe City. The event features a large number of ice sculptures, snow sculptures and colorful ice lanterns. Visitors can also participate in a series of ice-sports including ice-skating, ice hockey and iceboating.
From late April to May, the Lüshun International Cherry Blossom Festival is held. The main site is 203 Hill, and the other site is Longwangtang Cherry Blossom Park. It is said that the very first cherry trees were planted by Japanese soldiers stationed in Lüshun during World War II, in order to ease their homesickness. Today, the 203 Hill site has more than 3000 cherry trees, and boasts to be the largest cherry blossom park in China with the most varieties.
Each May, the Dalian International Walking Festival takes place. The purpose of the festival is to foster health and peace for the whole community. It is widely popular among citizens and attracts many foreign participants. Dalian is the only city in China recognized by the IML Walking Association. Four different routes of 30 kilometres (19 miles), 20 kilometres (12 miles), 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) and 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) are provided for participants, with the longest route going from Xinghai Square along Binhai Road to Laohutan Ocean Park, Bangchuidao Scenic Area and finally reaching Dalian International Conference Center. Starting from 2012, Jinshitan National Holiday Resort also serves as a venue for the festival.
Every May, Dalian International Marathon is held. With the first marathon held in 1987, it is one of the four oldest marathon races in China. The main venue is the Jinshitan National Holiday Resort.
Every June, the China International Software & Information Service Fair is held in Dalian World Expo Center. Officials from overseas government departments, CEOs of World Top 500, well-known consulting firms and overseas IT associations attend the fair each year.
Dalian International Beer Festival takes place in Xinghai Square every year from July to August. It is similar to Oktoberfest in Munich and is a widely popular event in the city. Activities of the Beer Festival include exhibitions by beer manufacturers, a beer disco plaza, a beer culture exhibition, a beer drinking contest, a photography contest, the Beer Industry Summit, and a beer quiz.
Dalian International Automotive Exhibition is held in August in Dalian Xinghai Convention & Exhibitions Center and Dalian World Expo Center.
The annual Dalian International Fashion Festival is held in September in Dalian Xinghai Convention & Exhibitions Center and Dalian World Expo Center. For the past decade, the festival has been attracting the world’s top fashion designers, businessmen and models to Dalian. Arrangement for the show includes various theme activities including the Garment Export Fair, fashion exhibitions, fashion competitions and a model contest.
Japan maintains a branch office for its Consulate General of Japan at Shenyang and a JETRO office in Dalian, reflecting a relatively large Japanese population.
Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry has about 700 corporate members. Those Japanese who had lived in Dalian before the War have organized the Dalian Society.
As of 2005, Dalian had 29 Christian churches (27 of them Protestant, 2 of them Catholic), 10 mosques, 34 Buddhist temples, and 7 Taoist temples, according to the statistics of the city government.Taoist temples can be found in various districts including downtown Dalian (Hua Temple in Zhongshan Park), in Lüshunkou District (Longwang Temple), and in Jinzhou District (Jinlong Temple in Daweijia, Xiangshui Temple at the foot of Dahei Mountain, and Zhenwu Temple in Liangjiadian).
Buddhist temples are in downtown Dalian (Songshan Temple on Tangshan Street and Lianhuashan Temple on Yingchun Road), on the northern side of Anzi Mountain (Anshan Temple), at Daheishi (Thousand-Hand Buddha & 500 Luohan Statues), in Lüshunkou District (Hengshan Temple at Longwangtang), and in Jinzhou District (Guanyinge-Shengshui Temple on Dahei Mountain).
Dalian Catholic Church (built in 1926) is in downtown Dalian, west of Dalian Railway Station. Protestant churches are near Zhongshan Square (Yuguang Street Church, the former Dalian Anglican Church, built in 1928 in the British Consulate General’s premises by the Church of England and Anglican Church of Japan jointly), on Changjiang Road (Beijing Street Church, now called Cheng-en Church, originally built in 1914 by the Danish Lutheran Church), on Xi’an Road (Christian Church for Korean Chinese and South Koreans), east of the airport (the newly built Harvest Church, which can seat 4000 people), in Jinzhou (the newly built Jinzhou Church) and in Lüshunkou District (Lüshun Church, a former Danish Lutheran church). Dalian Mosqueis on Beijing Street.