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© Robert Lowe/Flickr
© Robert Lowe/Flickr

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Picture of Sally Gao
Sally Gao
Updated: 23 January 2017
As Chinese New Year approaches, Hong Kong transforms into a riot of color and activity, with festive red lanterns and scarlet posters adorning streets and shopfronts. Traditionally, the festivities last for the first 15 days of the lunar calendar. Whether this is your first Chinese New Year in Hong Kong or your twelfth, here’s a list of activities and events to help you celebrate the Year of the Rooster.

 

Things to do before the New Year arrives

Clean your home. Chinese custom dictates that you should give your home a thorough cleaning in the days leading up to New Year’s Day, in order to get rid of the accumulated bad luck of the past year and prepare for a fresh start in the year to come. Just be sure to get all your cleaning done before New Year’s Day — the superstition is that if you sweep on the first day of the lunar calendar, you might accidentally sweep away your good luck!

Decorate. After you’re done cleaning, it’s time to brighten up your home with Chinese New Year decorations such as scarlet posters and banners, Chinese knots, and images of the Rooster, this year’s Chinese zodiac animal. An endlessly array of decorative items and trinkets can be found in any of Hong Kong’s numerous street markets, including Tai Yuen Street Market in Wan Chai, Ladies Market in Mong Kok, and the Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei.

Chinese New Year decorations | © Geneva Vanderzeil/Flickr

Chinese New Year decorations | © Geneva Vanderzeil/Flickr

Visit a flower market. Between Sunday, January 22nd and Friday, January 27th, you’ll have the opportunity to visit one of the pop-up flower markets in the city, where you’ll find stalls selling decorations, flowers, and potted plants. While all sorts of colorful flowers will be sold, orchids, peonies, and potted orange trees are the most popular because they are considered auspicious. We recommend visiting the market at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, or the one at Fa Hui Park in Mong Kok.

Go shopping. Lastly, the days before Chinese New Year are a great (if crowded) time to do some shopping, as many stores will hold special holiday sales before they temporarily close during the first three days of the New Year. Most of the major shopping malls will also hold special pop-up fairs and performances during this time.

January 28, 2017 (New Year’s Day): Watch the Night Parade

Saturday, January 28th marks the first day of the Lunar New Year. The annual Night Parade, a Hong Kong tradition for over two decades, is a dazzling street party that draws thousands of spectators to the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui. Glittering floats, dancers, and marching band performers will make their way from the start point at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza along Canton Road, Haiphong Road, Nathan Road, and Salisbury Road, ending outside the Sheraton Hotel. This year’s highly anticipated line-up includes folk and contemporary dance troupes, stilt walkers and a magic show.

The 2012 Night Parade | © Michael Elleray/Flickr

The 2012 Night Parade | © Michael Elleray/Flickr

The show begins at 8pm and lasts until 9:45pm. Tickets can be bought at the Tourism Board Visitor Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, with the stands opening at 7pm. Alternatively, you can view the parade for free from the street. Pre-parade street performances begin at 6pm. Be sure to arrive early to get a good spot!

January 29, 2017: Harbour Fireworks Display

Hongkongers love a good fireworks display. On the second night of the New Year, the night sky above Hong Kong’s skyline will be ignited in a spectacular pyrotechnic display. The show starts at 8pm and will last for slightly over 20 minutes.

If you plan to view the fireworks outdoors, the best vantage points include the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, the Central and Western District Promenade and Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.

©Robert Lowe/Flickr

© Robert Lowe/Flickr

Alternatively, skip the crowds by reserving a spot at a restaurant or bar with a harbour view. A number of restaurants with “front row seats” are even offering special Chinese New Year Fireworks menus to help you celebrate in style. Possibilities include Felix, located on the 28th floor of the Peninsula Hotel; Aqua, perched on the 29th floor of One Peking; and the two Michelin-starred Yan Toh Heen at the InterContinental.

January 30, 2017: Chinese New Year Race Day

On the the third day of the lunar new year, head down to the Sha Tin Racecourse to join in the festivities of the Chinese New Year Race Day, Hong Kong’s most popular all-day horse racing event.

The Sha Tin Racecourse on Chinese New Year Race Day | © Michael Elleray/Flickr

The Sha Tin Racecourse on Chinese New Year Race Day | © Michael Elleray/Flickr

The races will be preceded by a Variety Show starting at 11am. In addition to the usual lion dances and lucky draws, veteran Hong Kong entertainers such as Frances Yip and Bennett Pang slated to perform. The Hong Kong Jockey Club has also invited a feng shui master to share lucky tips for the new year.

General admission to the event is HK$10. Tourists with their passports on hand can gain access to the Members Enclosure for HK$130.

Other activities

In addition to the major events listed above, there will be a number of smaller, ongoing events happening throughout the city.

Lantern displays. Think there’s nothing special about a lantern? You’d be surprised. The lanterns exhibited during Chinese New Year are massive, colorful, and come in all shapes and sizes. The exhibition at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza takes place from 6pm to 11pm every day and lasts until February 19th. For a complete list of lantern carnivals, click here.

Chinese New Year lantern display at the Cultural Centre Piazza | © Ian Glen/Flickr

Chinese New Year lantern display at the Cultural Centre Piazza | © Ian Glen/Flickr

Lion dances at Ngong Ping Village. Between January 28th and February 3rd, traditional lion dances will take place twice a day at Ngong Ping Village Square on Lantau Island. The first show starts at 12:30pm and the second show starts at 3:30pm. From the village, be sure to visit the adjacent Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery if you haven’t had a chance to before.

Pray for good luck. Chinese New Year is the busiest time for Hong Kong’s temples, as locals flock to these places of worship to give thanks to the gods for the past year and pray for good fortune in the new one.

Some of the largest and most popular temples include Wong Tai Sin Temple, Man Mo Temple, and the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees, where the floats from the Night Parade will be on display from January 29th to February 12th.

Worshippers burning incense at Man Mo Temple | © shankar s./Flickr

Worshippers burning incense at Man Mo Temple | © shankar s./Flickr