Hong Kong is host to an exciting array of events all year round that range from different colorful festivals to fascinating sports and art events. In fact, life in Asia’s very own world city is more like a year round party. Be sure to add these events to your plan the next time you plan your trip to Hong Kong.
Chinese New Year Celebrations:
Though Hong Kong is a party paradise all year long, the colors and richness of the city truly comes alive during its biggest celebration- the Chinese new year. During this time, you will witness centuries- old traditions being practiced with the same fervor as modern metropolitan events. Line up on the streets of the Tsim Sha Tsui to become a part of the International Chinese New Year parade. This is where the world convenes to celebrate the Chinese New Year in a truly extravagant way by turning the whole harbor front area into one big outdoor street party. Squeeze into the beautiful flower markets and incense filled temples or take in the spellbinding fireworks and sports events, Hong Kong during Chinese New Year celebrations offers a unique, spectacular, traditional as well as a truly cosmopolitan and unforgettable experience of your lifetime.
Che Kung Birthday celebrations: Revered as God of good luck, this day is specially considered to be auspicious by all the self respecting gamblers of Hong Kong. Hundreds of thousands of devotees are found thronging the Che Kung temples on this day praying for their good fortune in the coming year by beating drums and turning fan- bladed wheels.
Spring Lantern Festival: Informally known as the “Chinese Valentine’s Day”, Hong Kong is a beautiful sight during this event. Colorful lanterns are put up on every nook and corner of the city, whether it’s a park, market or a restaurant, giving an ethereal feel to the whole atmosphere.
Hung Shing Festival: Originally a historical figure who was later deified, Hung Shing festival marks the celebrations in the name of Hung Shing, a powerful Tang dynasty governor who helped fishermen and merchants with his astronomical, geographical and weather forecasting skills. Celebrate the event in the 800- year old village of Ho Sheung Heung, in New Territories, to actually feel the essence of the whole festival.
Ching Ming Festival: Ching Ming, in Chinese means ‘clean and bright’. This festival involves various ancestor worship rituals such as weeding graves, touching up of headstone inscriptions, make food offerings and light incense. In fact, such is the exodus from the city to its graveyards on this day that the public transport provides extra services o the commuters to handle the same. One of the common traditional customs followed on this day involves burning of faux cash to be used by ancestors in their afterlife. However, nowadays people also burn paper imitations of luxury cars, mobiles, laptops and refrigerators in addition to various other things so as to help their ancestors cope with the consumer demands of the heavenly realm.
Birthday Of Tin Hau: Revered by people as Goddess Of Sea, Tin Haus birthday is widely celebrated in Hong Kong to bring safety, good weather and full fishing nets for the coming season. With a strong maritime and fishing heritage, Hong Kong has a huge following for the goddess, as evident by the number of temples for the same dotting the city. One o the best atmospheres on this day is found in the village of Shap Pat Heung, where you can witness a fascinating parade involving boisterous lion dances, colorful floral wreaths and a fa pau raffle. You can even head to Joss House bay in Sai Kung to witness the Tin Hau Festival Boat parade that involves a procession of beautifully decorated fishing boats going to mark their attendance at the local Tin Hau temple, which is over 700 years old.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival: Deemed to be one of the top 10 quirky local festivals of the world by Time.com, this weeklong festival involves reenactment of the traditional centuries-old Taoist rituals along with various lion dances, drum beating and bun tower competitions. In fact, the locals of Cheung Chau consider this festival as a continuance of their community thus bringing thousands to crowd this erstwhile pirate haven to witness this spectacular festival. One of the highlights of the festival is the carnival- like Piu Sik or the Floating Colors parade. In this, young children dressed up as traditional deities or modern rock stars balance on poles, thus appearing to float above the crowds in the company of lion dancers and gongs. However, the festival hardly ends here. It is the famous bun tower competition that takes place opposite Pak Tai temple that is the most awaited and most cheered occasion. Grab a bun motif such as a bun key chain or a bun mobile phone bling while attending this festival so as to put an unforgettable stamp on this special experience.
Buddha’s Birthday: Though officially a public holiday, Hong Kong pays tribute to Buddha on this day by bathing statues of Buddha in bowls of water in a ritual that is said to purify your soul. However, some of the grandest celebrations take place at the Po Lin Monastery, located just opposite the Big Buddha, where you can get the real feel of the festival. Do try the special green cookies, made especially for this day, which though being quite bitter, represent the hardships that one has to go through to enjoy better things in life. In addition to this, also sample the delicious vegetarian fare at Po Lin restaurant that is located right alongside the monastery.
Tam Kung’s Birthday: In addition to being popular among the fishermen and other seafaring communities like Goddess Tin Hau, Tam Kung is one of those rare deities worshipped only in Hong Kong. Worshipped due to his ability to foretell weather and staying young even when he was 80 years old, the celebrations on this day are particularly best at his temple in Shau Kei Wan, on the Hong Kong Island.
Dragon Boat Carnival: Summer in Hong Kong is even more hot than usual, what with this sizzling annual celebration that converges on the iconic Victoria Harbor. Enjoy the party and cheer some of the best dragon racers of the world. Every year, thousands of revelers gather at the stunning harbor to experience this amazing combination of boats, beers and cheers. In fact, this ancient Chinese festival is today counted among one of the world’s greatest parties. So be ready to get yourself to the waterfront and dive right into the fun.
Kwan tai Birthday: Worshipped by both the police and the secret societies that they investigate, Kwan Tai is an erstwhile Han Dynasty general who has been immortalized as God of war and is considered as a symbol of integrity and loyalty. This day is particularly celebrated at the Man Mo temple, on Hong Kong Island, where a lamp is always flickering in front of the Kwai Tan statue.
Seven Sisters Festival: Informally known as the Chinese Valentine Day along with the Spring lantern Festival, the festival is based on the two stars, namely Altair and Vega, who are actually two lovers. According to a legend, this day a bridge is formed between them so they could meet each other. Celebrated with various needlework competitions and incense burning, the day is for the young romantics who make various different offerings to these lovesick star deities.
Hungry Ghost festival: Considered to be the time when restless spirits roam on the earth, this festival is an intrinsic part of the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship. Witness the ever- living culture of the city during this festival when offerings are made for ghosts to use in afterlife. Food is left out for them to feed, faux money is burnt in roadside fires, and special Chinese operas are held. These operas and dramas are held on temporary bamboo stages, praising the charitable deeds of deities and dramas that provide the required entertainment for ghosts bored of the other world charms.
Monkey God Festival: Popular for his mischievous antics, the Monkey God is highly revered in Chinese tradition. This festival is celebrated by offering paper and burning incense sticks. In fact, the best place to celebrate this festival in its true form is at Monkey God Temple in Sau mau Ping in Kowloon. Here be a part of the hundreds of thousands of people who turn up every year to present offerings to their deity.
Confucius Birthday: Considered to be one of the most influential philosophers of China, birthday of this lauded man is specially celebrated by the devotees. Teaching the five virtues of justice, charity, wisdom, propriety and loyalty, the Confucius effect is evident till date on many social and family practices across Asia such as ancestor worship and filial devotion.
Winter Solstice Festival: Having its origin on the concept of yin and yang, the Winter Solstice festival is the time for optimism and celebrates the harmony of life. Many Chinese people consider this festival second only to Chinese New Year. In Hong Kong, people finish their work early and go home to the lavish meals prepared for the occasion, including the festival special tangyuan, sounding like ‘reunion’ in popular terms.
Visa Go Shopping Indulgence: A shopping festival of its own kind, Visa Go Shopping indulgence pampers the shoppers with rewards and promotions that will make any shopaholic run for his or her purse. With the dizzying variety of products on offer, it is a shopping paradise where a shopper can get the most out of Asia’s World City with the special discounts and offers on almost all the products on the shelf.
Lee Kum Kee Lantern Wonderland: Considered to be an important part of the ancient Chinese harvest festival, Lee Kum Kee Lantern Wonderland brings forth the perfect blend of tradition and innovation. In this mid- autumn festival, colorful glowing lanterns subtly merge with the trademark neon lights of the city bringing forth the passion of Chinese mythology in the glow of a lantern. The traditional lanterns glitter throughout the city with the grandest one being in the Victoria Park in the Hong Kong Island. Do remember to sample the famous ‘moon cakes’ that is served especially during this festival.
Tai Hang Fire Dragon dance: This three- day dance festival is a spectacle of fire and fury in itself. With hundreds of performers, thousands and thousands of incense sticks and a 67 meter dragon winding its way through the crowded streets, the festival is an experience that needs to be experienced to be described in words. Offering a timeless, vibrant and traditional memory, this is the Hong Kong that you always dreamed of.
Halloween: Halloween in Hong Kong is one big party that involves festive entertainment, costume parties, Halloween-special foods and drinks and a unique celebration of both the eastern and western culture. In fact, the city is now popular as the “Halloween capital of Asia” with people just relishing the chance to let their hair down by putting on a disguise and has a howling time. Complete with mad masquerades, fancy dress parties, festive foods, and themed shopping malls, these Hong Kong Halloween treats are just a part of the feverish craze that grips the city. Some of the favorite must visit haunted spots at this time of the year involve Disneyland haunted Halloween, Madame Tussaud’s spine chilling show, Ocean Park’s true Hong Kong style horror party as well as the Lan Kwai Fong Halloween street party. From fiendish parties to raucous theme park celebrations, there is Halloween fun for everyone in Hong Kong.
American Express Wine and Dine Month: If you are one of those who enjoy the finer things in life to the fullest, do plan your visit during the American Express Hong Kong wine and dine month. An epicurean feast prepared by top culinary wizards of the city paired with some of the best wines of the world, the event involves various wine themed events. This involves a month long series of street carnivals, dine offers, restaurant wine, fairs, classes and wine themed tours along with various other similarly themed events and promotions.
Hong Kong Winterfest: Putting an eastern spin on the Western Winter celebrations tradition, Hong Kong is a unique place to be during the Christmas festivities. With the city decked up in its finest Christmas finery, nothing beats Hong Kong on this cosmopolitan holiday extravaganza. In addition to winter sales and beautifully decorated skyscrapers, there is also the amazing firework display that is displayed over the spectacular Victoria Harbor.
Hong Kong Well Wishing Festival: One of the most charming of all the cultural events, Hong Kong well wishing festival takes place at the wishing trees of Lam Tsuen. Celebrate this day with the locals by writing your wish on joss paper to throw on these trees and setting the water lanterns afloat to make all those wishes come true in the coming year. Witness this age old tradition come alive in Lam Tsuen of New Territories and participate to become a part of them.
Dragon and Lion Dance extravaganza: Participate and become a part of one of the world’s biggest lion and dragon dance festival in Hong Kong. With large scale colorful dances, craft workshops teaching lion making and other traditional events, this festival brings color to the age old traditions and dance rituals of ancient Chinese times.
Cross Harbor Swimming Race: This iconic race sees over 100 contestants vying for the title by swimming across the 1.8km Victoria Harbor. Though the event is being annually conducted since 1901, it was temporarily suspended in 1979 and then brought back in 2011 to promote swimming and bring back the historical value of the race among the locals.
Hong Kong Dancesport Festival: If you love dance and music, be sure to include this event in your itinerary when you are treated to a display of passion, artistry and technique of dancers from around the world. See the top ranking dancing athletes from over 30 countries come to Hong Kong to compete in various dancing categories such as Tango, Waltz, Vietnamqese Waltz, Quickstep and Slow Foxtrot.
Hong Kong Masters: Strengthening Hong Kong’s role as the equestrian capital of Asia, welcome to one of the world’s first five star accredited show-jumping event of the equestrian calendar. If you are a fan of the sport, you will hardly want to miss this event where world’s top 25 riders meet to put a spectacle that you are surely not going to forget in a hurry. In addition to the main event, there are also the supporting programs for fans and families that include photo shoots, horse clinics and meet and greet with various local and international riding stars.
Hong Kong Open Championship: Being held since 1959, this golfing championship is one of the oldest and one of the most important sporting events of the city. Having a rich history of winners, this championship has made Hong Kong the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Asian golfing calendar. So plan your trip today to watch some of the best golfing action in the midst of scenic views of Hong Kong today.
The artistic community of Hong Kong is always looking to do something new and creative. Here are some of the major recurring events that you need to look out for once you hit the town.
Hong Kong Arts Festival: Considered to be the pinnacle of performing arts community of Hong Kong this festival offers a stage for Asia’s top talents to perform alongside various international leading artists. Pitching to a wide range of appetites, the festival has a broad spectrum of performances and events lined up from classical to avant-garde to even electrifying.
Hong Kong Salsa Festival: For all you twinkle toes out there, this festival brings forth a week long Latin dance extravaganza that features road shows, dance workshops, World Salsa Championship as well as other performances and parties based on the theme. You can even give the dance a crack yourself by attending dance lessons given by local experts and international instructors during the festival.
Le French May Arts Festival: Though modestly started in 1993, Le French may has today become one of the largest French arts festival of Asia. Bringing the spirit of France on the Hong Kong stage, Francophiles can savor a colorful and varied cornucopia of visual arts, French culture, classical as well as contemporary music and dance, performances, fashion and cinema all under this single event. For the foodies, there is a special program called Le French Gourmay where you can taste some of the best culinary dishes from France.
Chinese Opera Festival: Few art forms can compare to the mysticity and charm of the Chinese Opera. This festival, held every summer and organized by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, is a showcase of the richness and celebration of the Chinese culture. Innovative yet traditional, the festival attracts artists from around the China in Hong Kong to present the audiences with a compelling array of the various opera genres which include local Cantonese Opera too that has made it to the UNESCO’s representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage Of Humanity.