Experiencing Chinese New Year in Hong Kong 2017

As an expat spending your first year in Hong Kong, my guess is that the idea of celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY) can be quite foreign to you. In Hong Kong, CNY is the most celebrated and festive holiday on the calendar, even if you are not into it, the good news is that you will get 4 days off in a row!! Plenty of time for you to at least try to explore the various CNY celebrations taking place in the city!!

Since the date of CNY is determined by the lunar calendar, it is different each year and this year, it lies on January 28 and marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster.

I am sure that if you are from major cities like London, New York and San Francisco, you might have seen the dragon and lion dances at China Town at some point.

In Hong Kong, there are certain standard events that happen every year such as the flower markets in Victoria Park and Fa Hui Park, fireworks at Victoria Harbour and the night parade in Tsim Sha Tsui. However, aside from the traditional events, the following list will include other exciting and new attractions.

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AIA Great European Carnival (16 December 2016 to 12 February 2017)

Taking place at the Central Harbourfront with the amazing skyline as its backdrop, the AIA Great European Carnival runs from December to February, covering Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. With over 30 rides at various levels of excitement and live entertainment, the carnival provides a great pastime for families, couples and friends.

Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade (28 January)

Having been sponsored by Cathay Pacific for 19 years, the night parade themed ‘Best Fortune. World Party.’ will start at 8 pm at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui and proceeds along Canton Road, Haiphong Road, Nathan Road and Salisbury Road, and ends outside Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers.

The 1 hour 45 minute parade will consist of pre-parade street party performances, local and international performances from countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Japan and USA etc, and glamourous floats.

Note that surrounding roads will be closed off and some bus routes suspended about 2 hours before and after the parade, so remember to plan ahead if you wish to attend.

>> Living with the Skyline of Tsim Sha Tsui

Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival (28 January to 12 February)

The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees have been a popular place of interest for both tourists and locals. During the festival, visitors can make wishes by throwing traditional joss paper and lighting lanterns, and savour traditional and local at food stalls. And if you missed the night parade on 28 January, the exquisite floats from the parade will be on display at the Lam Tsuen Wishing Square and some of the performing groups will also give an appearance.

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Lunar New Year Fireworks Display (29 January)

Historically, firecrackers were lit as part of the CNY celebration but they have been banned due to safety and security issues, and the government has since found a replacement in fireworks. Happening on the second day of CNY, crowds will gather along both sides of the harbour for this annual spectacle. Some of the best vantage points include Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Avenue of Stars, Central Government Offices, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, West Kowloon and Hung Hum Promenade.

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Flower Markets (22–28 January)

Free of admission, there are 14 flower markets in Hong Kong with Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and Fa Hui Park in Mongkok being the largest. Flower markets in Hong Kong work just like Christmas markets where you can do some last-minute shopping for CNY decorations and flowers. Flowers play a major role in CNY for there is a Chinese saying that goes ‘Fortune comes with blooming flowers’ (花開富貴) and each type of plant has a different symbolism, for example, peach blossom symbolises relationship, narcissus wealth and kumquat fortune. Aside from decorations and flowers, visitors can also dig into traditional street foods like egg waffle, fish balls and dim sum.

This year, there is a newcomer to the scene: ‘Mart in Hong Kong’, which will take place from 24-27 January at Central Harbourfront, featuring over 80 stalls in 5 distinct zones—Lifestyle zone, Gourmet zone, Dried Goods zone, Beer & Wine zone and Interactive game zone.

List of Hong Kong Flower Markets
Hong Kong Island: Victoria Park (Causeway Bay)
Kowloon: Fa Hui Park (Mongkok), Cheung Sha Wan Playground, Morse Park (Lok Fu), Kwun Tong Recreation Ground
New Territories East: Yuen Wo Playground (Shatin), Tin Hau Temple Feng Shui Square (Tai Po), Shek Wu Hui Playground (Sheung Shui), Po Hong Park (Tseung Kwan O), Man Yee Playground (Sai Kung)
New Territories West: Sha Tsui Road Playground (Tsuen Wan), Kwai Chung Sports Ground, Tin Hau Temple Plaza (Tuen Mun), Tung Tau Industrial Area Playground (Yuen Long)

Chinese New Year Race Day (30 January)

It is everybody’s wish to have a prosperous 2017 and for the Chinese, it is important to kick off the new year with some lucky money, so where else to go but the Chinese New Year Race Day at the Jockey Club?! The Race Day will be hosted on the 3rd day of CNY at the Shatin Racecourse, where there will be traditional lion dances, singing performances, greetings from the city’s favourite jockeys and good luck tips sharing by renowned Feng Shui masters.