With such an international and multi-cultural population it’s almost inevitable that Hong Kong has become the region’s centre for festivals. The festivals range from fascinating religious affairs to world class sporting events all with one common them – organised chaos! Dances, colours, incense and lots and lots of noise are the corner stone of any event held in the Hong Kong, the ‘events capital of Asia’. Festivals can be the best way to get to truly know this captivating, east-meets-west destination. So prepare your senses and have a look at what Hong Kong has to offer throughout the year:
February: Buckle your seat belts for Chinese New Year in HK. Chinese New Year is celebrated on a large scale throughout Asia but few can match Hong Kong’s budget. Fortune telling, mahjong, endless lion dancers, incense smoke and then the crescendo – a huge firework display on Victoria Harbour followed by a massive parade. Potentially the biggest highlight of the Hong Kong calendar and certainly worth trying to time your trip for.
March: Strictly speaking it begins on the last day of Chinese New Year, the Spring Lantern Festival allows local couple to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s day with beautiful lanterns strung up around the city.
April: April brings Ching Ming Festival – where families visit their ancestral graves, however it’s far from a morbid affair and in true HK style incense is burned and a wide variety of food is left for their ancestors. An amazing sight.
May: This month is used to celebrate Tin Hau – the protector of fishermen. Countless boats flock to the Tin Hau temples to pray for luck for the forthcoming year – the water is almost unrecognisable with the sheer number of boats. May always holds Lord Buddha’s birthday and, arguably more interesting, Cheung Chai Festival where participants race to climb the bun tower!
June: Dragon boat festival – a sight to behold. 8 men in each boat compete over 3 days to be the victor. The boats are opulently decorated and they alone are a visual feast, the crowds reach fever pitch and this is a festival you won’t want to miss!
August: A scarier version of our Halloween! The 7th moon is said to bring back restless spirits and ghosts, some in search of revenge. Families burn fake money in an attempt to appease the vengeful ghouls!
September: Second only to CNY, the mid-autumn festival is a celebration of Chinese victory over the Mongolians – expect plenty of dragon dancers and incense!
October: Cheung Yeung festival – it centres on an old fable of a man cheating death by moving to higher ground. Naturally then the whole of HK seems to flock up the mountains to burn offerings.
This is just scratching the surface of the Hong Kong festival scene. The rugby sevens, winter solstice, Confucius’ birthday (the list could go on and on!) didn’t even get mentioned. So when you know the dates of your visit, do some research because you can be fairly sure, there’ll be something going on! Happy travels!