Looking for what to do in Hong Kong over the holidays? We’ve rounded up the best Chinese New Year events!
It’s almost the Year of The Rat, which means we’re ready to take a break and find ways to spend our Chinese New Year holidays. Although many will use this time to flee the city, plenty of us stick around to enjoy some (relative) peace and quiet. We’ve put together a handy list of things to do over the public holidays (Saturday, 25 January – Tuesday, 28 January), if you haven’t managed to bag a flight abroad, Happy Chinese New Year!
Read more: Your Ultimate Chinese New Year Dining Guide
This Lunar New Year, the annual parade has been transformed into an epic four-day, fun-filled Chinese New Year Carnival! Taking place at the West Kowloon Cultural District Art Park, the event will feature over 50 groups of local and international performers. Acts include globally-acclaimed troupes and world-record holders, such as V. Unbeatable, whose flipping acts and captivating dances made the finals of America’s Got Talent; and UPeepz and Vpeepz, who were crowned divisional champions at NBC’s World of Dance. Other impressive performers in the line-up include renowned balloon artist Syan, hailing from Japan; Kate-Pasi’s hand to hand acrobatics from Finland, and many more. Not-to-be-missed events include the daily parades, giant Insta-worthy installations, a workshop on balloon twisting (and even face painting!) and more. Along with the impressive line-up of performers, to ring in The Year of the Rat, there will also be plenty of festive food and games to enjoy. Guests will be able to feast on everything from Michelin-recommended street food, to freshly-baked pastries, Southeast Asian snacks, international favourites and much more.
When: Saturday, 25 January to Tuesday, 28 January, 2pm to 8pm
Where: West Kowloon Cultural District Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
How much: Free!
Festive Field Trips:
Paying a visit to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees is a popular tradition during the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, visitors write their wishes on a paper, tie them to a string with an orange and toss it over the tree. The “wish” should successfully catch on one of the branches and remain hanging for their wishes to come true! Nowadays, to protect the integrity of the wishing trees, visitors are asked to make their wishes by tossing joss papers (ghost or spirit money) onto an imitation tree, or to hang them onto wishing boards. Whether you believe in the wishing trees’ power or not, this is a cute little activity to do during the holiday time with your friends or family.
When: Saturday, 25 January to Monday, 9 February
Where: Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: Free admission – but spare a few dollars to get joss papers!
Even if you’ve frequented the races many times, be sure to head over for an extra special outing in honour of the Year of the Rat – the Chinese New Year Race Day at Sha Tin Racecourse. The day promises heaps of festive programmes including lion dances, CNY greetings from well-known jockeys and, of course, a tipple or two!
When: Monday, 27 January, 11am to 6pm
Where: Sha Tin Racecourse, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: General Admission $10; Tourist badge is $130 to enter into members’ enclosure
Lunar New Year Lantern Carnivals and Youth Nights
A visit to Tsim Sha Tsui’s seaside piazza will surely get you all jazzed for CNY. Lit up with thematic lantern displays, the nicely embellished harbourfront space is a feast for the eyes. Enjoy classical Chinese performances at Carnival Nights, including a live concert, acrobatics show and a lantern-making exhibition. Featuring both Chinese orchestra and European folk dance troupe, Youth Nights celebrates Hong Kong’s unique identity as a diverse international hub.
When: Friday, 17 January to Sunday, 9 February
Where: Various locations – to be confirmed soon
How much: Free!
Taking a more traditional approach, visit one of the many temples to pray for health and prosperity in the upcoming year, for you and your loved ones. Hong Kong locals usually pay respects to ancestors or pray for some good fortune in the year to come, so why not bring along some offerings of food and incense with you? Temples are architecturally beautiful, with brightly decorated shrines, all making the perfect spiritual excursion in celebration of the New Year – and the burning of incense makes for a good Instagram!
When: Throughout late January and early February
Where: Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, 2, Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon; Tin Hau Temple, 10 Tin Hau Temple Road, Causeway Bay; click here to check out more
How much: Free!
An ornate arrangement of colourful and fragrant plants and flowers, the jumbo-sized Flower Markets, situated in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park and Fa Hui Park in Sham Shui Po, are definitely worth visiting. A perfect outing for all to enjoy, you’ll feel festive in the midst of the New Year atmosphere. Transform your apartment into a CNY jungle with tangerine trees and lucky bamboo. Rather than decking your hall with boughs of holly, use cherry blossoms, orchids and daffodils instead!
When: Sunday, 19 January to Saturday, 25 January, from 6am onwards
Where: 15 parks and playgrounds all over Hong Kong including Victoria Park (Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island) and Fa Hui Park (Sham Shui Po, Kowloon)
How much: Free – but don’t forget to bring along your wallets to splurge on some exquisite flowers!
Read more: Your Guide To The Flower Market
During the festive period, Lion and Dragon dances will be going on just about everywhere you turn! From shopping centres to restaurants, hotels and possibly even in your office block, you’re bound to catch one at some stage over the holidays!
Spring Lantern Festival is the final day of the two-week long celebrations for Chinese New Year and it marks the first full moon of the Lunar calendar month. Everywhere you turn this CNY will be beautifully decked out with colourful lanterns. Hong Kong cultural centre’s carefully-curated lantern display is definitely one to feast your eyes upon!
When: Saturday, 8 February, 7pm to 10pm
Where: Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
How much: Free
Day to Day:
Go on…you’re on holiday! Grab your friends and family and treat yourself to a decadent brunch – our top picks are those that come with free-flow deals. With heaps of delicious options to choose from, these brunches are super indulgent and an awesome way to catch up with those also staying in the city over the CNY holiday.
Take full advantage of all that free time and embrace the great outdoors! Okay, CNY is notorious for rainy weather, and with recent cold spells, cosying up indoors is appealing – but the cooler climes do make for great hiking conditions! Check out these top hikes in Hong Kong that promise quiet forest treks, isolated beaches and stellar city views.
Read more: Hong Kong’s Most Challenging Hikes
Pick up a hobby
Freshen up after that brunch (and inevitable, regrettable night out) with some alfresco picnic fun! Spending a lazy afternoon on the grass is sure to help you unwind after a few weeks back at work, and let you enjoy the pleasantly comfortable weather before it heats up again! So, whether you’re packing your own small bites, opting for hair of the dog with a bottle of bubbles, or snapping up a pre-prepared basket, get back to nature, escape the hustle and bustle and relax in the sunshine!
Read more: The Best Catering Companies In Hong Kong
During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities. But let’s not forget about those that are less fortunate and unable to celebrate. There are loads of ways to lend a hand and make a difference, but why not join the World Vision’s Spring Charity Barefoot Walk for Children in support of Sudanese children in conflict. Support your local community and The Community Chest with just a little love, warmth and smiles, and make an elderly person’s day.
Read more: Where To Volunteer In Hong Kong
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 4, February 2016 and was most recently updated on 17, January 2020.
Featured Image courtesy of Getty, Image #1 courtesy of Michael Elleray via Flickr, Image #2 courtesy of Getty, Image #3 courtesy of Annie Spratt on Unsplash, Image #4 courtesy of Duddell’s via Instagram, Image #5 courtesy of Tiffany Ku and is property of Sassy Media Group (images may not be reproduced without prior permission).