Abstract. Severe wintertime haze events with exceedingly high levels of aerosols have occurred frequently in China in recent years, impacting human health, weather, and the climate. A better knowledge of the formation mechanism and aerosol properties during haze events is helpful for the development of effective mitigation policies. In this study, we present field measurements of aerosol properties at an urban site in Beijing during January and February 2015. A suite of aerosol instruments were deployed to measure a comprehensive set of aerosol chemical and physical properties. The evolution of haze events in winter, dependent on meteorological conditions, consistently involves new particle formation during the clean period and subsequently continuous growth from the nucleation mode particles to submicron particles over the course of multiple days. Particulate organic matter is primarily responsible for producing the nucleation mode particles, while secondary organic and inorganic components jointly contribute to the high aerosol mass observed during haze events. The average effective density and hygroscopic parameter (κ) of ambient particles are approximately 1.37 g cm−3 and 0.25 during the clean period and increase to 1.42 g cm−3 and 0.4 during the polluted period, indicating the formation of secondary inorganic species from the continuous growth of nucleation mode particles. Our results corroborate that the periodic cycles of severe haze formation in Beijing during winter are attributed to the efficient nucleation and secondary aerosol growth under high gaseous precursor concentrations and the stagnant air conditions, highlighting that reductions in emissions of aerosol precursor gases are critical for remedying secondary aerosol formation and thereby mitigating haze pollution.