5 February, 2013
Chinese New Year, What's On HK

Sassy’s Guide to Chinese New Year 2013

5 February, 2013

How lucky are we Hong Kongers?! We get to ring in not one, but two New Years, and benefit from all the revelry (and time off work!) that goes hand in hand with a big holiday. While many choose to stretch that vacation time by heading overseas, for those of us staying in the ‘Kong, there’s plenty to enjoy right here – so here’s the Sassy Guide to Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, including all your must-know info on festive days out, food, carnivals and much more!

DAYS OUT

Your first stop should be the Chinese New Year festive flower markets, the biggest of the bunch situated in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, and Fa Hui Park in Prince Edward. Here, you can stock up on lucky plants and the ubiquitous kumquat trees, a symbol of prosperity for the coming year – plus plenty of themed CNY goodies like snacks, lai see packets and toys (since it’s the Year Of The Snake, expect to see snakes cuter than you’ve ever seen before!). The markets make for a colourful night out and there’s a real festival atmosphere; join the mad crowds on the last day to pick up some bargains!

When: 4-9 February, noon until midnight
Where: 14 parks and playgrounds all over Hong Kong including Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island and Fa Hui Park, Mong Kok, Kowloon
How much: Free entry

Naturally, Hong Kong’s theme parks will have plenty going on to ring in the Year of the Snake. Hong Kong Disneyland sees Mickey and friends decked out in their festive finery, along with a golden walk of fortune and Mickey lai see coins. Heading Southside, Ocean Park play host to Hong Kong’s largest spinning lantern, and there will be performances from an award-winning Taiwanese folk drum and art group throughout the holiday. Expect photo opps galore.

When: Until 24 February
Where: Disneyland, Lantau; Ocean Park, Aberdeen
How much: Disneyland adults $399, children $285; Ocean Park adults $280, children $140

For something a bit different, visit Lam Tsuen’s Wishing Tree to participate in the age-old custom of writing your hopes and dream for the year ahead on joss paper and throwing them into the tree’s branches, or releasing ‘wishing lanterns’ into the sky. There is also an exhibition centre for you to learn more about the tradition, plus special performances and shows, yummy food stalls and souvenirs aplenty. Just be prepared for the traffic jam to get into Tai Po on the way there.

When: 10-23 February, 8.30am-6.30pm
Where: Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, Lam Tsuen, Tai Po
How much: Free; charges for some events may apply

Give thanks for the year that’s been at one of Hong Kong’s many temples, have your fortune told for the year ahead and stock up on some lucky amulets. Check out some of the most popular ones here.

 

THE MAIN EVENTS

Tsim Sha Tsui’s annual Night Parade is a real must-see, with 13 magnificent floats, hundreds of performers from all corners of the globe (including Aussie stilt-walkers, American cheerleaders, Estonian roller-skaters and a Polish marching band!) and a huge street party all to celebrate the Year of the Snake. This gets seriously busy, so arrive early to claim your spot.

You can either book a grandstand seat, cram along the parade route (the best vantage points are along Canton Road outside Harbour City, Haiphong Road or the junction of Nathan and Peking Roads outside Chungking Mansions) or watch from home – the entire event is broadcast on TVB Jade.

When: 10 February, 8-9.30pm
Where: Starts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui and proceeds along Canton, Haiphong and Nathan Roads, ending at Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers; download full route here
How much: Free viewing along the parade route; $300-400 for spectator seats at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza (tickets can be purchased at Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre by the TST Star Ferry Pier)

Of course, the real biggie is the superb firework display that takes place in Victoria Harbour each Lunar New Year and this year’s pyrotechnic fiesta will undoubtedly be as jaw dropping as ever. If you really want to get up close and personal with the lightshow, various tour companies offer firework junk trips in the harbour, or alternatively head to one of our tried-and-tested firework viewing spots (or some of the dining destinations mentioned later!) and watch the celebrations go off with a bang.

When: 11 February, 8pm
Where: Victoria Harbour between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui
How much: Free

 

CARNIVALS & FESTIVALS

The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre is running a whole host of cultural events in the lead-up to the holiday. Famed for the Cantonese opera performances, there will also be Chinese dances, a theatre fair and a variety of musical concerts.

When: Until 16 February, see full programme here
Where: West Kowloon Cultural District
How much: Free-$150, get more info here

Make some noise at the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra’s Festive Drums for a Roaring New Year open-air concert. There’ll be competitions, arts and craft stalls and best of all – lots and lots of noise! What’s not to love?

When: 17 February, 2-6pm
Where: West Kowloon Cultural District
How much: Free

There will be Lunar New Year Lantern Carnivals taking place around Hong Kong throughout the festive period. With various displays themed around different subjects, expect to see some seriously spectacular lanterns on show (there’s even an exhibition about how to make them!), plus enjoy traditional performances from the Yunnan Hanghezhou Song & Dance Troupe on carnival day.

When: Carnivals 22-24 February, lantern display 7 February-17 March (Thursday-Sunday), lantern exhibition 21 February-3 March
Where: Carnivals Tsing Yi, Fan Ling & Tsim Sha Tsui, display and exhibition Hong Kong Cultural Piazza, Tsim Sha Tsui; see full details here
How much: Free

The Confucius Carnival takes place in the pedestrian areas around Causeway Bay, showcasing lion dancing, martial arts, Cantonese opera, Chinese orchestra, a Chinese costume catwalk show, traditional dances and other special booth displays and games.

When: 17 February, 2-7pm
Where: Pedestrian zones in Paterson Street, Great George Street, East Point Road and Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay
How much: Free

Don’t forget, you can even get a dose of CNY spirit when you’re hitting the shops! All the malls will have themed displays that will give you an excuse to take a breather from your spree and some may even have special music or dance performances too – this year, we’re loving the gorgeous cherry blossom windmills at Pacific Place, the cuddly pandas at IFC, the Liberty-print dragons at Elements and the classy contemporary decoration at LANDMARK.

 

EATING OUT

Of course, up there on the list of things to do this Lunar New Year is gathering the family together for a CNY feast. Pretty much every restaurant in town will have something happening for CNY, so here’s just ten picks that are on the Sassy menu for a festive feast with a view or two!

If you’ve got as sweet a tooth as we do, order some scrummy Chinese New Year puddings at Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons Hotel. You’ll need to hurry as desserts are only available to collect until February 9, but as the only Cantonese restaurant ever to be awarded three Michelin stars, you know it’s going to be worth it! Podium 4, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, 3196 8880

Want to make a real night of it? Fine dining favourite Petrus at the Island Shangri-La have a six-course dinner menu priced at $1588 to pair with that spectacular firework view on 11 February. 56/F, Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Phrase 2,Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, 2820 8590

The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong’s two Michelin-starred Tin Lung Heen Cantonese restaurant has prepared a dedicated Year of the Snake menu to celebrate wealth, health and happiness – six courses for lunch ($688) or the auspicious eight for dinner ($1688), available from February 10to 24. Want the view but not the feast? Head to OZONE, the highest bar in the world, to get a gander at the fireworks on 11 February 5-8.30pm through their huge floor-to-ceiling windows – it’s $300 per guest, or $500 for a front-row seat, both including a signature CNY cocktail to boot. The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, 2263 2270

Sassy Award winner Sevva is a great location to impress any guests you might have over the holiday! It’s got the food, the drinks and best of all, the views. They’ve got a host of dishes especially for CNY – including turnip cakes, Cantonese lobster, spicy Singapore-style prawns. 5/F Landmark Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2537 1388

The restaurant formerly known as Duetto is now Tamarind, and they’ll be holding a Dinner Buffet on 11 February from 6.30-9.30pm – and at only $398 per person, the price is right too! We love the pan-Asian menu featuring a variety of Thai, Indian and Vietnamese dishes, but the real draw here is the gorgeous outdoor terrace for a bird’s-eye view of the pyrotechnics. 2/F, Sun Hung Kai Center, 30 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2827 7777

If you want to be right in the middle of all the action, then head to the Watermark at Central Pier 7 for their CNY set dinner. There’s a celebratory set menu for both adults ($888) and kids ($388), and the location really couldn’t be better. Shop L, Central Pier 7, Top Level, Star Ferry, Central, 2167 7251

Watching the fireworks from Causeway Bay? Then the roof terrace at ToTT’s in the Excelsior Hotel is a great option, although book early as there’s limited tables. Their decadent three course-dinner on 11 February costs $1288 and includes a dessert buffet and complimentary glass of champers. 34/F, The Excelsior Hong Kong, 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 2837 6786

Kowloon-side, there’s not one, but two great views on offer with your steak.  Wooloomooloo Prime, at The One mall on Nathan Road is the swankier of the two, with an amazing elevated view of the harbour on the 21st floor, whereas Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at TST East is slap bang on the waterfront. Prime is doing a 5-course menu for $1088, whilst the Steakhouse is offering a four-course option for $550 – take your pick! 21/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2870 0087; G7-8 & UG17-18, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2722 7050

Get the best seats in the house with some delicious Chinese cuisine to match at Hutong – they’ve got an eight-dish banquet including chilli clams and ‘kung po’ fish for $1588, magnificent view of the fireworks included. Even better, the stunning traditional wishing tree in their foyer might just save you a trip to the one in Tai Po! 28F, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3428 8342

New Territories girls should check out Yue Cantonese restaurant at the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel. Ok, so you’re not getting a firework view, but the dim sum is award winning and the peaceful out-of-town spot is ideal for combining with a CNY staycation – and they’ve got a whole selection of seasonal delicacies to feast on, including lobster lo hei noodles and traditional steamed puddings. If that’s too much of a trek, find plenty more similar CNY yums at the Michelin-starred YUE restaurant in City Garden Hotel in North Point instead. LG/F, Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel, 1 Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, 2452 8668; 1/F, City Garden Hotel, 9 City Garden Road, North Point, 2806 4918

 

SNAKE CHARMING

With Chinese New Year comes the opportunity to pick up some ‘only-in-HK’ gifts and knick-knacks. Ok, so we’re not recommending you trawl the tacky tourist shops along Nathan Road, but here’s a couple of cute little CNY-themed mementos we’re loving.

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to let you know about VERO’s delish chocolates, especially designed for the Year of the Snake. With beautifully boxed Chinese zodiac art designs ($388 for a set of two) and even itsy-bitsy chocolates shaped like oranges (with a hit of mandarin brandy!) packed in a dim sum basket ($328), these make for great gifts… just make sure you save a box for yourself too! Shop 236, 2/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queens Road, Central, 2559 5810

Since we’re talking life’s little luxuries, we couldn’t help but throw some wine into the mix too! Rather than emblazoning their bottles with cheesy snake cartoons, etc wine shops are keeping it classy by instead celebrating their vintage wines from other Years of the Snake gone by – like the rich and ripe Figeac 2001 ($825) or the super indulgent Latour 1953 ($11,650!). G01, Leighton Centre, 77 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, 2567 2009

MAC have come up with a gorgeous Year of the Snake make-up collection, featuring plenty of vibrant shades and shimmering finishes. The best bit? The beautiful foil-embossed snake packaging (we’re gonna have a hard time throwing the boxes away) and the chic serpentine design on the make-up itself  – including a snake twisting up the sides of your lipstick! Very cool. See all MAC locations in Hong Kong here

Commemorate the Year of the Snake with these cool personalised Chinese zodiac print posters from Cupcake Designs. They’ll make perfect presents for anyone expecting a little snake this year – or any older snake guys and girls too! For other snake souvenirs, hit up the Victoria Park flower market, Stanley, Ladies Market in Mong Kok or the wet market in Wan Chai.

As for your wardrobe, check out our Year of the Snake Style Guide for all of Sabrina’s top tips on working snake print into your wardrobe. Dresses, shoes and a bit of a bling too – she’s got it covered! Finally, make sure you’re feeling festive top to toe with our fun CNY DIY manis too.

Kung Hei Fat Choi, girls!

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