With a dearth of snow and few majestic Douglas firs, Hong Kong has to be creative with its Christmas festivities. Whether you’re looking for something traditional (Santa and a workshop) or a little different (more art than commerce), dress up the kids and drag them out to the nearest plaza. After all, nothing says Christmas more than shopping.
There’s no way elite Central could possibly be conventional, so it’s Santa Paws and his Wishing Machine for the Landmark. Located in the Atrium, the Wishing Machine comes to life every half hour with seasonal music, choreography and 80 teddy bears animated with over 100 life-like movements. It’s like something from a 1950s department store window. On top of the technological treat, visitors can insert special tokens into the Wishing Machine, purchase a Santa Paws and the Wishing Machine book or create a personal 3D video on a specially designed reality app. Tokens and videos earn Make-A-Wish Hong Kong a $20 donation from the Landmark, and all proceeds from the book go to the charity.
If the shopping and generally commercial nature of the holiday is too much and you’re not ready to crack out the Nativity set either, K11 could be the tonic. The self-described art mall has tapped artists from Hong Kong, China and Japan to create a carbon-neutral Christmas exhibition in keeping with the UN’s yearlong campaign to promote light-based sustainable technologies. The mall’s Supernova X’Mas – Luminastic is all about light, the highlight being the seven-metre tall 4D Crystal Tree by Japan’s teamLab. The interactive installation uses smartphone tech to allow visitors to virtually decorate the tree and raise awareness of the importance of carbon reduction.
With its ice rink, Cityplaza is one of the few places in the SAR able to flirt with actual wintry-ness. Stalwart Christmas character Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is front and centre with “Follow Rudolph, Live Happy,” billed as Hong Kong’s first white Christmas on ice. The Atrium and Centre Bridge become winter landscapes upon which the misfit reindeer’s story unfolds. Germany’s Gmund presents eco-friendly paper décor, and Santa is ready for photos at $100 towards Operation Santa Claus. From December 17 to 24, the rink will host an ice show to go with its parades. Finally, Cityplaza’s six-metre tree will have the added bonus of actual frost, as specialised gear will let it snow, let it snow, let it snow every 30 minutes. Programme times vary.
The original Looney Tunes may be too off colour for modern tastes, but the characters are as popular as ever, so Citywalk has partnered with Warner Bros. for the “Citywalk & Looney Tunes On Show” starring beloved ’toons Bugs Bunny, Taz the Tasmanian Devil, Wile E Coyote and more. As Hong Kong’s only green mall, Citywalk’s 8,000 square-foot vertical garden and open piazza will be home to a 15-metre tree, and Citywalk 1 and 2 will host assorted festive and Looney scenes, interactive games, a Circus Parade (Christmas and New Year’s Day), a New Year Countdown and animated video presentations. Fans that would enjoy browsing some of the classic art will find an exhibition of rare hand-drawn images, and visitors can support the local arts community by checking out the Po Leung Kuk Market, featuring stalls selling local handmade items, perfect for unique gifts. Programme times vary.
One of the city’s busiest malls is Festival Walk, and this year’s festive events pivot on the Feathery Galaxy. Hong Kong’s tallest indoor tree — 21 metres — is a blaze of white and is this year’s focal point, complemented by the Feathery White Parade and the live Feathery Fantasia Show. Santa Claus is on hand in his village for pictures with kids, free with an $80 donation to the Charles K Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease. For $30, shoppers will receive a set of greeting cards designed by Kao after choosing their colours and writing a greeting. Programme times vary.
TST – Harbour City
Frequently the location of Hong Kong’s most notable (or garish depending on your tastes) festive décor, Harbour City, as usual, steps out to the Forecourt for its holiday lightshow. This year’s gold-hued attractions celebrate Disneyland’s 10th year in Hong Kong with an immersive “Happily Ever After” Christmas Avenue. Headed up by a golden tree capped with a Mickey Mouse ornament, the Avenue features holiday shop windows based on the eternally popular Frozen, and a new theatrical piece, “Mickey and the Wondrous Book.” The Fantasy Lighting Christmas Present offers up Disney character silhouette projections, with meet-and-greets, photos and personal silhouettes available with $30-$50 donations to the Hong Kong Blood Cancer Foundation. Get those selfie sticks ready. Programme times vary.