Hong Kong will be bursting at the seams with entertainment, activities and excitement from 16 February to 2 March, as locals and visitors unite to welcome the ‘Year of the Dog’ and wish for a prosperous twelve months ahead.
From dazzling fireworks and street parades to outdoor carnivals and vibrant flower market stalls, colourful festivities will light up the streets throughout Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, here are a few highlights:
Local and international performers will come together for a night of entertainment at the annual International Chinese New Year Night Parade, held on Friday 16 February. Watch colourful floats sail past and enjoy lively performances with thousands of other spectators along Tsim Sha Tsui’s main streets, whilst soaking up the buzzing atmosphere.
Chinese New Year will start off with a bang, courtesy of a spectacular display of pyrotechnics over Victoria Harbour. The 20 minute Hong Kong Chinese New Year Fireworks Extravaganza will light up the sky creating a kaleidoscope of colour. The show will run from 8pm on Saturday 17 February and the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and Central Harbourfront will provide best viewing spots.
Further out in the city, the track comes alive at the Sha Tin Racecourse for the Chinese New Year Raceday on Sunday 18 February. A British colonial legacy, horse-racing is enthusiastically embraced by the locals. For the first race of the Year of the Dog, thousands of Hongkongers and visitors will flock to the racecourse for an exciting New Year programme, accompanied by live entertainment and activities.
Adding to the festivities is the Great European Carnival at the Central Harbourfront Event Space, which will be transformed into an outdoor amusement park until the end of February. Take a ride on the giant swing, try your luck at a games booth or watch circus performances.
Every Chinese New Year, the Che Kung Temple is awash in a sea of colourful spinning “wheels of fortune” that dance along with the breeze — a breath-taking sight to experience. The decorations celebrate the birthday of Che Kung, a renowned military commander turned deity. Che Kung’s birthday falls on the second day of Chinese New Year, making it a double celebration. Join thousands of well-wishers as they pay their respects to Che Kung and welcome the New Year.
The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are another popular destination for Hongkongers during the New Year. Located in Lam Tsuen Village in Tai Po, New Territories, the original trees were believed to bring good fortune and villagers would tie joss papers to the branches in the hope their wishes would be granted. Every Chinese New Year the village is crowded with people from all over the city, waiting their turn to cast their wish.
Also worth the trip are the vibrant and aromatic Flower Markets, which are packed to the brim with everything you need for Chinese New Year, from traditional decorations, souvenirs and delicious treats to vivid and exotic blooms. Various “lucky plants” carry their own auspicious omens, for instance kumquats represent “wealth” and peach blossoms symbolise “romance” and “longevity”. The vibrant temporary flower markets in Victoria Park and Mongkok usually open around a week ahead of the festival. Join the locals to search for auspicious buds for the New Year, before the markets close in the early hours of the first day of Chinese New Year.
Poon Choi, or one-pot casseroles, are a hallmark of traditional village dining culture and are especially prevalent during Chinese New Year. Made from layering different types of ingredients, from meat and poultry to seafood and vegetables in a giant pot or basin, Poon Choi is a heart-warming communal dish perfect for big groups and celebrations. Visitors can sample this distinct dish at select restaurants across the city during the New Year celebrations.
There are also plenty of auspicious-sounding ingredients in Cantonese cuisine which become symbolic during the New Year period. For instance, (ptongyuen dumplings which sound similar to the word “reunion” in Cantonese, symbolise the coming together of family and are often served as a dessert during this time. Dried oysters (“ho si” in Cantonese) are phonetically reminiscent of “good business” and are popular with Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Glutinous rice cake or pudding (“neen go” in Cantonese) sounds like “tall year”, which can be roughly translated as “reaching higher skies each year”.
Whether you are travelling with family, friends or solo, join Hong Kong as they welcome the ‘Year of the Dog’ in spectacular style and colour.