Hong Kong — Festivals and Events
Hong Kong relishes its title as Asia’s events capital, gained through its eclectic mix of traditional religious celebrations, sports events, and world-class cultural performances. The Chinese love of parades, fireworks, colorful rituals, eating and drinking ensures that every event goes off with a bang. The Chinese New Year is everyone’s favorite and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, as well as locals who return home to celebrate with their families.
Chinese New Year
Celebrated in February on dates according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year is the most joyful of all Hong Kong’s festivals. Featuring the New Year Night Parade with costumed dancers, floats, traditional music, dragon dances, and the world’s best fireworks display, it’s best followed by a day at the races in traditional Hong Kong style.
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Hong Kong’s largest entertainment event kicks off in late March at venues across the city, with 330 titles from over 50 different countries screened. World-renowned international premiers, as well as Asian moves are shown, and parties and other celebrations take place in the city.
Tin Hau Festival
Fishing is a traditional occupation on the Hong Kong Islands, and this April festival celebrates the name day of Tin Hau, the protective female deity to the fishermen and mariners. Of the 70 temples celebrating, Shap Pat Hueng offers one of the most vibrant and colorful parades, decked out in huge flower wreaths.
Buddha Bathing Festival
The best place to see this charming Hong Kong ritual in April is Po Lin Monastery on Lantau. As a celebration of the Lord Buddha’s birthday, the rituals of bathing a Buddha statue revives the legend of the nine dragons which attended the birth and sprayed holy water on the new-born child.
Dragon Boat Festival
Held at the end of May and into June, the Dragon Boat Festival of Tuen Ng is all about the ship racing, egged on by drummers and screaming crowds. Huge sums are won and lost by betting on the winners, and people-watching at this time is perhaps even more fun than watching the races.
Chinese Opera Festival
From the middle of June until August, the rich cultural legacy which is Chinese Opera delights audiences of Hong Kong locals and visitors alike with its colorful dramas spiked in song, acrobatics, martial arts, and traditional costumes. The themes are based on legend and are a fascinating introduction to this iconic Asian art form.
Hungry Ghost Festival
Held late August through September, the Hungry Ghost Festival lasts for the month during which the ancestor spirits are allowed out of the land of the dead to mingle with the living. Paper money and food are burnt to appease the ghosts, Chinese Opera performances are held for their pleasure, and the festival ends when the ghosts return to their resting place.
Hong Kong Jazz Festival
October sees the huge Hong Kong Jazz Festival, a gathering of over 300 jazz musicians and performers across 24 countries for a multitude of concerts, workshops, and talks taking place all over Hong Kong. Jazz is a favorite art form here, and many well-known musicians arrive for the event.