5 Chinese festivals in Hong Kong

Hong Kong hosts lots of exciting festivities throughout a year, something thrilling is happening here all year long. Festivals held in Hong Kong are extremely spectacular and colorful, traditional cultural celebrations. These events are filled with energy and vitality, and give you a chance to peek into local Chinese culture and traditions. Moreover, everyone has heard about Hong Kong’s fascinating firework shows. Furthermore, we will tell you more about 5 festivals worth to visit while in Hong Kong: Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Spring Lantern Festival and the last but not least Tin Hau Festival.

Dragon Boat Festival

1. Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the largest, most colorful and exciting festival in Hong Kong. The Chinese New Year parade is one of the most famous events in Hong Kong and thousands of locals, as well as tourists, come to experience it every year. Tsim Sha Tsui district next to Victoria Harbour is packed with cheering crowds. You will find lots of colorful floats, festive dragons, traditional Chinese bands, and dancers. The parade usually launches at 8 pm, however, performances begin at 6 pm, it is advised to get there earlier to be able to find a good spot. 

On the second day of this festival, everyone is invited to view Chinese New Year Fireworks Over Victoria Harbour free of charge. Firework show lasts around 25 minutes, it is usually combined with a spectacular laser and lights show on the buildings. You can view this show from both sides of the harbor front in Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Wan Chai, by boat on the water, or from The Peak.

The third day of the Chinese New Year festival holds year’s most popular Horse Race. Around 100.000 people gather in Sha Tin Racecourse to witness this event. This horse race has a unique festive program and is a non-profit charity event. The entry fee is around 10 HKD.

2. Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival also called as Duanwu Festival in Hong Kong is tree days of fierce racing. Thousands of the world’s top dragon boat athletes compete at the Hong Kong’s international Dragon Boat Races. Adrenaline filled air is floating in the modern skyline of Victoria Harbour, as well as crowds cheering for their favorite athletes, this will make everyone’s heart beat faster. As always in Chinese culture, lots of colors and sounds will make this event even more memorable. Hong Kong succeeded to turn this ancient Chinese tradition into a contemporary sport and international celebration.

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday, occurring near the summer solstice, it is also a bank holiday so it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. The festival now takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar.

During this festival, it is also common to eat sticky rice dumplings (zongzi), hanging Chinese mugwort and calumus, drinking realgar wine, and wearing perfume pouches. These traditions nowadays are more likely to be seen in suburbs other than metropolitan areas.

3. Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional Chinese harvest festival. This festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. In the old days during this festivity families would gather to appreciate the harvest, they would traditionally eat mooncakes and worship moon, the food was offered to the moon and the lanterns were lit to symbolize the light. This celebration is similar to Thanksgiving in the U.S.

The most impressive show to see during this festival is the giant dragon dance taking place in Tai Hang. The 70-meter long dragon is made with 70.000 shining incense sticks and 300 performers are moving through the streets of Hong Kong. This event usually takes place around 8 p.m. It is advised to view this show from Wun Sha Street, it gives you the best, also make sure to get there earlier to avoid the crowds.

Besides the dragon dance show, during this festival, there are also lots of Lantern Carnival shows and other performances, including music, dance, kung fu, acrobatics and variety of craft workshops. The best part is that The Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department sponsors this festival and makes it free of charge.

4. Spring Lantern Festival

The Spring Lantern Festival in Hong Kong is held on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. This festival also marks the last day of Chinese New Year festivities. During this festival red lanterns are hanging all over Hong Kong, lanterns meant to symbolize hope for the new year. The lanterns are being hanged in the shops, banks and marketplaces. This old tradition goes back thousands of years, to create the lanterns, locals use bamboo, wheat, silk and paper. Over the many years the lanterns evolved, now they are being made in different shapes, sizes and colors.

There is a main lantern exhibition located in Tsim Sha Tsui next to he Clock Tower, where the most impressive lanterns can be seen. This exhibition stays there for around a month, every evening lanterns are being lit for the public to enjoy it.

Apart from the beautiful lanterns hanging everywhere, there are all kinds of cultural performances as well, life music, dance and other artistic shows to mark this beautiful festival. If you are in Hong Kong during this festivity its a great opportunity to experience traditional and contemporary spring arrival celebration.

5. Tin Hau Festival

Tin Hau is a Chinese goddess of the sea and a patron saint of fishermen, this festival was created to celebrate her birthday. Hong Kong is home to lots of Tin Hau Temples, this festival is celebrated by each of these temples. Tin Hau festival takes place on the 23rd day of the third lunar month. Lots of lively activities take place during this festival, such as lion dances, music concerts, and martial arts displays. Also, huge and colorful floral ‘fa pau’ floats are being carried through the streets of Hong Kong.

The most notable parade of this festival takes place in Yuen Long. The strong sound of drums and cymbals going through the streets is meant to please the goddess and to scare off evil spirits. Performers in colorful outfits moving along the streets remind of a giant human dragon. A three-hour parade moves from Fung Cheung Road towards the massive Tina Hau temple located in Tai Shu Ha. The event begins at 10 a.m. this is when 30 gracefully decorated “fa pau” as well as lion and dragon dances and other extraordinary traditional shows are marching all together making it one huge cheering colorful crowd. Later on, the “fa pau” are raffled off and winners are able to take home the favorable wreaths. 

Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in Asia, both economically and traditionally. Chinese heritage and traditions are deeply honored in Hong Kong. Festivals in Hong Kong are rich in traditions and give you a close glimpse into Chinese culture. 

There are many festivals in Hong Kong throughout a year. If you want to experience Chinese traditions, it is advised to travel to Hong Kong during one of the many festivals. Some festivals held in Hong Kong are quieter and family dedicated, while others are public and loud, with glowing lanterns, crowded temples, dancing lion and fierce dragon show, and many more performances Each festival is different, before traveling to Hong Kong chose the one that you’d like to see the most.