The glitter’s barely settled from 2016’s Chinese New Year celebrations here in Hong Kong, where we welcomed in the Year of the Monkey with dragon dancers leaping through the streets and excited calls of ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’ richoceting around the red and gold festoooned skyscrapers. But it’s never too early to get planning for the next one, and 2017’s lunar festivities look set to be as spectacular as ever. From the show-stopping annual parade to colourful flower markets, explosive fireworks to the legendary festival of wishes, Hong Kong certainly knows how to ring in the Chinese New Year in style. We’ve rounded up our top events in the city to make sure your Year of the Rooster gets off to a flying start”¦
Every year, a week before the new lunar calendar begins, Hong Kong is transformed into one giant, colourful florist. Join throngs of city residents bargaining for armfuls of auspicious blooms, which range from orchids and chrysanthemums to miniature kumquat trees. No room for an orange tree in your suitcase? There are plenty of other treasures to shop for. Seek out toys, sweets and anything and everything rooster-shaped, but be warned — crowds reach ultimate heights on New Year’s Eve, so come with elbows sharpened and be prepared to barter hard.
When: January 2017
Where: All around Hong Kong, with the largest markets in Victoria Park (Hong Kong Island) and Fa Hui Park (Kowloon)
Chinese New Year Parade
The whole city seems to tumble out onto the streets of TST for the annual Chinese New Year Night Parade – a riot of lion dancers, elaborate floats and rainbow-costumed troupes of performers flown in from all corners of the globe. Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, the all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza snakes its way through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui in the evening, bringing the city to life with acrobatics, music, dragons and more, so get down early to secure yourself a spot for the night.
When: 28 January 2017
Where: Tsim Sha Tsui
Wishing Trees at Lam Tsuen, Tai Po
For centuries, villagers have been coming to Lam Tsuen around Chinese New Year in the hope of making their wishes come true. Traditionally they would write their wishes on bright scarlet joss papers, tie them to oranges and throw them up into the tree branches — legend had it the higher the offerings landed, the more chance they had of the wish coming true.
The tradition has now spread beyond the local villages and grown to become a full-blown festival, with visitors flocking in to hang wishes on wooden racks and imitation trees. There are also performances, lantern ceremonies and other festivities, and floats used in the Chinese New Year Night Parade are also displayed – so if you didn’t manage to catch them winding their way through the city on the main night, fear not.
When: February 2017
Where: Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories.
Victoria Harbour Fireworks
Traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits and usher in good luck, firecrackers have always welcomed the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong with a bang. Victoria Harbour’s New Year Fireworks take that to the next level, with a twenty-minute display of kaleidoscopic pyrotechnics illuminating the sky and water. Join the crowds gathered on both sides of the harbour to gaze up and gasp, or watch, cocktail in hand, from a harbourside bar (our particular favourites include: Aqua, Café Grey, The Intercontinental Lobby Lounge and The Ritz Carlton’s Ozone – which also just happens to be the highest bar in the world”¦)
When: 29 January 2017
Where: Victoria Harbour
Horse racing is one of Hong Kong’s favourite pastimes, and the New Year Sha Tin Races are the biggest and most hotly anticipated of the year. Expect cultural performances, dances and a variety of other festivities as you celebrate alongside professional jockeys.
When: 30 January 2017
Where: Sha Tin Race Course
Whether you have little ones in tow or you’re just a big kid at heart, it’s hard to resist the temptation of getting a Lunar New Year selfie with Mickey, Minnie and co in their finest red and gold garb at Hong Kong Disneyland. Every year the park is awash with lanterns, lai see packets and Chinese delicacies, and it’s an ideal chance to pick up some unique gifts.
When: January and February 2017
Where: Hong Kong Disneyland, Sunny Bay, Lantau Island
New Year Feast
If there’s one thing it’s essential to do in celebration of the Lunar New Year, it’s gather together a crew of friends and family and feast until you can feast no more. To mark the occasion, restaurants across Hong Kong roll out special menus featuring everything from fish maw to fried lobster, so head down to Tsim Sha Tsui or elsewhere to try some traditional New Year dishes. Don’t miss the dumplings, then top it all off with the deliciously sweet Nin Gou (New Year Cake).
When: January/February 2017
Where: All over
Booking your flight to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year couldn’t be eaiser with Virgin Atlantic’s daily, direct services.
Have you celebrated Chinese New Year in Hong Kong? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Written by Natalie Robinson