Are you planning to visit Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year or you are not yet sure whether to stay or travel during that time? Maybe it helps if you can give you a few tips on what you can and should do?
Public holidays on Feb 8, 9 and 10
Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday celebration in Hong Kong, full of traditions and customs, special dishes and frantic gift giving. This year, Chinese New Year’s Day falls on Monday February 8, 2016 – which is a public holiday. Many independent retailers will close their doors on that day. Major attractions, theme parks and public transport will operate as usual. There will even be special celebrations at Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park. Street markets and stalls will usually close on the first and second day of the Chinese New Year (Feb 8 and 9), and reopen on Feb 10.
Lunar New Year Lantern Exhibition from Feb 4 to 28
At the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza will be lanterns that are lit up from 6.00pm to 11pm every night. This year’s theme is: Kingdom of Vigorous Monkeys. I visited this spectacle a few years back and really enjoyed to take pictures at night time.
Lunar New Year Flower Market from Feb 2 to Feb 8
Hong Kong is perpetually doused in a riot of colour, however with the onset of Chinese New Year the city is decorated in a fresh coat of colour. From skyscraper sized neon signs, to the red ribbons draped throughout the streets, perhaps the brightest and best colours come from Hong Kong’s flower markets.
The ‘big day’ for the flower market is Chinese New Year’s Eve, when the city’s biggest flower market at Victoria Park will be swarming with people looking to pick up prize bouquets. The flowers are said to give good luck and are given when visiting family for the traditional New Years Eve feast of chicken and fish.
The markets are open from noon to midnight (and also from midnight to 6am on Feb 8), but can be very busy in the late afternoon and evening (here are my posts from my visits in 2012 and 2014). To get to the Victoria Park Flower market, take the MTR Causeway Bay Station Exit E, then follow the crowds along Great George Street or MTR Tin Hau Station Exit A2, turn left at exit.
I have already been yesterday afternoon and it was getting busy…
… and as always there were beautiful flowers on display:
Night Parade on Feb 8
Every New Year’s Day Hong Kong puts on a spectacular Night Parade of brightly coloured floats and performing artists in Tsim Sha Tsui, transforming the harbour-front area into a giant street party venue. This year’s theme is ‘Playground of the World. Party of the Year’ and 13 illuminated floats will be taking part, including giant creations, delightful stilt walkers, extravagant drummers, energetic cheerleaders and cultural dances from overseas, as well as traditional dragon and lion dances, percussion bands, ballet and modern dances from Hong Kong.
It will start at 8pm and last for about 90 minutes, but you will need to make your way to the site at at least 6pm to grab a good spot and then depending on where you are (we usually stand somewhere on Nathan Road) the time can stretch, as the parade will move slowly. Here’s my blog post about the 2012 parade and pictures from that night:
Lam Tsuen Well-Wishing Festival from Feb 8 to Feb 22
If you missed the parade on New Year’s Day, the floats will be on display (from Feb 9 onwards) at the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees. To get there, take the MTR to Tai Wo Station then a free shuttle or taxi to Lam Tsuen Wishing Square. Every day from 9am to 7pm you can see the floats, try local snacks and traditional Hakka food and of course: write down your wishes for 2016 on placards and hang it on the branch of a wishing tree.
Fireworks on Feb 9
The fireworks display for Chinese New Year is always the biggest and largest in Hong Kong. Thousands will line both sides of iconic Victoria Harbour on the second day of the Chinese New Year with an astounding pyrotechnic display. The fireworks start at 8pm but again, for a nice viewing spot, you have to be there really early. 6pm is probably too late already if you want to grab a space at the Kowloon waterfront.
In my first year I did manage to queue up for three hours to get close to the fireworks – it was a great experience, but you could also go to the Public Ferry Piers on Hong Kong Island (as I did for the New Year’s Eve 2013 fireworks), it’s less crowded. Or maybe try from the Wan Chai Convention Centre, this is where I stood for the New Year’s Eve 2014 fireworks.
Chinese New Year Race Day on Feb 10
This is one of the events that I’ve never been, but I do love a good night at the races (see my post about Happy Valley here). Every year there is a race at the Sha Tin racecourse, designed to celebrate the New Year with some good fortune!
What are your plans for this year’s celebrations to welcome the year of the fire monkey?