Hong Kong, as an East-meets-West hub, has embraced the festivals of both cultures. Christmas, Easter and Halloween are all major festivals in Hong Kong, but most overseas hotel guests at The Pottinger Hong Kong will find the local traditional festivals particularly fascinating. Some highlighted festivals not to be missed are as follows.
Even more than the rest of the world, Hong Kong doesn’t let a new year begin without making a celebration of it. For hotel guests who enjoy a good New Year’s party, Lan Kwai Fong near The Pottinger Hong Kong is the place to be, although a similar party atmosphere can be found for the New Year’s countdown across the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui. And for sheer spectacular, the stunning firework display at the stroke of midnight that lights up Victoria Harbour is a surefire way to imprint Hong Kong’s New Year celebrations on your memory.
The most important festival in Hong Kong for locals is Chinese New Year (marked by the first day of the Lunar Calendar, usually falling in either January or February). It’s a time for family reunions, feasting on traditional New Year delicacies and exchanging gifts and red packets (lai see, small red envelopes containing cash). The spectacular fireworks display over Victoria Harbour, held on the second night of Chinese New Year, is one part of the tradition that no hotel guest at The Pottinger Hong Kong should miss.
The famous Cheung Chau Bun Festival takes place on Cheung Chau Island, a 40-minute ferry ride from Central in Hong Kong. This fascinating one-of-a-kind festival, an island tradition now for over a century that originated as a time to pray for health and safety, takes place on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month (usually in April or May). The highlight of the festival is a competition in which participants scramble up huge bamboo towers covered with steamed buns, believed to bring blessings. Those not so keen on the adrenaline rush can instead join in the festivities at the Flying Colours Parade, where children are dressed up as deities or topical news figures and carried about on stilts in among the lion dancers.
Most of the major churches in Hong Kong celebrate the resurrection of Christ with traditional services, open to all. The holiday weekend is also a good time to sample the traditional foods associated with the festival, such as chocolate Easter eggs and hot cross buns.
More commonly known as the Tuen Ng Festival, this public holiday falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (usually in June) and is a traditional Chinese festival that commemorates an ancient martyr. The most exhilarating among all the Tuen Ng traditions are the dragon boat races, the main ones taking place in Stanley, Shatin and Tai Po. Dragon boat racing has become an internationally famous sport these days, and the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival, which takes place in June on Victoria Harbour, attracts thousands of dragon boat racers competing for the prize of world’s best dragon boat team.
Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong, as throughout China, is a time for lanterns and mooncakes (baked cakes usually filled with lotus seed paste and a salted egg yolk). Held on the night of the full moon in the eighth lunar month (which usually falls in September or October), it’s a magical time when families light lanterns and picnic outdoors under the stars.
Hong Kong has really taken this Western festival to heart. In the days leading up to 31 October, shops, streets and bars are festooned with creepy decorations and ghoulish garb, while shops are full of Halloween-themed fare. Locals and expats celebrate the festival mostly in Central, many kitting themselves out in eerie costumes picked up from stalls along Pottinger Street, near The Pottinger Hong Kong.
Christmas in Hong Kong may not be as cold as in many places, but it’s as full of tinsel, Christmas lights, and festive cheer as anywhere on the planet. Hong Kong shopping malls are decked with huge trees, wreaths and other seasonal decorations, while many buildings on either side of Victoria Harbour are dramatically lit up with festive light installations.