On 1 October 1949 Mao Zedong, better known as Chairman Mao, stand atop Tiananmen, the gate at the top of the square by the same name, and pronounced the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC). This year will be the sixtieth anniversary of that date – a major milestone. You can be sure that there will be celebrations in Beijing as well as in the rest of China.
The first step towards this republic came in late 1911 when Sun Yatsen was proposed as the first president of a republic to replace the failing Qing Dynasty. Political maneuvers meant that Sun Yatsen's ideals were not upheld for long and a weakened China slid into factional warfare.
The Communist Party was formed in 1921 but this had to battle against its main rival then Guomindang who were then the main power. This rivalry continued through the Second World War ad, after the Japanese were evacuated from Chinese territory, this rivalry became an all out civil war. Only after Chiang Kaishek fled to Taiwan with the remnants of his power did the Communists assert control and reunify China.
Every anniversary of this foundation is celebrated with gusto within China. The reason that there will be such major celebrations in Beijing in 2009 is that 60 years has a special significance in Chinese Culture. In the west we would consider 60 years as a Diamond Jubilee. In China this period is known as a Jiazi.
Jiazi is an ancient term based on cycles of the Chinese Zodiac. You are probably familiar with the Chinese concept of animal years; Well there are 12 of these and they interact with the 5 Elements of Chinese metaphysics to produce the result 60. Actually it is not quite a straight multiplication as the two aspects 'Yin' and 'Yang' are also brought into play. Instead of getting a 120 year period, half of the combinations are considered only 'Yin', the other half only 'Yang' – so that the result is indeed 60.
So what events are planned?
At the moment, no plans have been announced officially. These probably will not be announced until much nearer the time. You can be sure that there will be events and that, with the experience gained running the Olympics last year, Beijing will lead the way with the largest and most spectacular events. Aim to be there for a truly memorable occasion. You will need to begin your preparations early. The formalities can take a while and costs are likely to shoot up once the actual events are publicized and the locals start to think of attending.
Unless you are of one of the lucky few nationalities not requiring one you will almost certainly need a visa. Visas are best obtained in your home country now, not Hong Kong. A simple 30-day tourist visa is sufficient for most visitors, and this is extended reliably easily in-country.
Many hotels can be booked on-line but you can sometimes get a better rate by going through a local agent, especially if you are buying a complete package from them.
Other arrangements may need to booked in advance; Only time will tell. Most events will be public so if you have flight, visa and hotel sorted then you will not be wasting your time.
Have a good trip.