Celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong like a local
Hong Kong is always bustling but come Chinese New Year, the city’s energy amps up to electrifying levels as locals prepare for the biggest festival of the year. Here’s your go-to itinerary to soak up the atmosphere if you’re lucky enough to be in Hong Kong during that time.
- January 2019
If you’re worried shops will be closed during Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, fret not. Major attractions, shops and restaurants in the busiest districts don’t just remain open (some even extend their service hours), the entire city is bursting with energy. From festive markets to even a massive street parade, there isn’t anything like Hong Kong during Chinese New Year. Here are some ways to get the most of your holiday.
The day before Chinese New Year (February 4, 2019)
The best way to soak up the atmosphere is to head to a local flower market. It’s the day before Chinese New Year so locals are rushing to make last-minute preparations for the biggest festival of the year. Flowers aren’t just used for decorating homes; certain flowers have symbolic meaning to Chinese people. For example, marigolds signify longevity, and orchids represent fertility and abundance.
The first day of Chinese New Year
Locals like to go hiking on the first day of Chinese New Year — the act of climbing uphill signifies progress in life. Head to Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s biggest island that boasts dramatic ocean views, unspoiled beaches and the world’s tallest Buddha statue built outdoors, 34m-tall Tian Tian Buddha.
At night, head to Tsim Sha Tsui to Canton Road, Haiphong Road or Nathan Road where an annual Chinese New Year parade happens. Dazzling floats including ones by Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong, dancers, acrobats and performers fill the streets, creating a spectacle that both kids and adults will love.
The second day of Chinese New Year
Head to the New Territories and take part in the Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival in Lam Tsuen opens in new window, a village with over 700 years in history. Locals flock to this village on the second day of Chinese New Year to take part in an age-old tradition of writing your wishes for the year on a placard, attaching it to an orange and throwing it up what locals call Wishing Trees. The higher the placard hangs on the tree, the greater chance for the wishes to come true, so go for it!
There are other ways to up your chances for a prosperous year — you can also write your name and wishes on joss paper, and hang it on the wooden rack next to the Wishing Trees. Whichever you go for, it’s all good fun, and a unique way to enjoy Chinese New Year.
The annual Lunar New Year Fireworks Display takes place at 8pm at Victoria Harbour and it’s not to be missed. One of the best ways to enjoy unobstructed views of the 30-minute spectacle without having to fight with the crowds is aboard a Harbour Cruise but if you want to enjoy the show for free, head to ifc opens in new window in Central or the harbourfront in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The third day of Chinese New Year
You could visit Che Kung Temple in Tai Wai and spin the temple’s famous copper windmill clockwise to usher in good luck for the new year, or you could put your luck to the test at Chinese New Year Race Day at Sha Tin Racecourse opens in new window. Horseracing is an incredibly popular activity in Hong Kong and the first race in the Year of the Pig is exceptionally crowded. So go ahead, get some tips from locals, and place a small bet. Who knows? You might just start the lunar new year with a bang!