Chinese New Year is approaching and there is no place like Hong Kong to combine ancient traditions with modern metropolitan events. Although, Hong Kong offers opportunities to party and celebrate at various events throughout the year, you definitely should not miss the two weeks of colorful Chinese New Year Celebrations of the Year of the Snake. Similar to Western holidays Chinese New Year has many different traditions, events and activities. Try some lucky foods (e.g. black moss which sounds in Cantonese like ‘prosperity’, steamed sticky cake, sweet glutinous rice balls (tang yuan), vegetable with ham or dried oysters), visit a fortune teller in one of the many temples, get enchanted at the Chinese New Year Flower markets or simply watch the Chinese New Year Firework Show.
For 2013, Chinese New Year is on February 10th (the first day of Chinese Lunar Calendar). In order to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, Hong Kong will celebrate and welcome the “Year of the Snake” with several big events and activities from February 4th to 17th, 2013. Colorful Flower Markets, dazzling world-class Chinese New Year Parade, Lunar New Year Fireworks, Lion Dances, special celebrations at temples, sport and fun activities or the famous Chinese New Year Horseracing spectacle.
Similar to previous Chinese New Year celebrations we would like to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the most popular, colorful and impressive Chinese New Year events and activities. As a final reminder, before we start to introduce you the Chinese New Year activities, prepare that – no matter which event, activity or show you like to watch, join and/or participate, be prepared and aware that it will very, very (!) crowded.
• Flower Markets (February 4 – February 9, 2013)
• Cultural Activities
• Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade (February 10th, 2013)
• Lunar New Year Fireworks 2013 (February 11)
• Horseracing – Chinese New Year Race Day 2013 (February 12)
Flower Market (February 4 – February 9, 2013) [Go Back]
The Hong Kong Lunar New Year Flower Markets usually kick-off the festive Chinese New Year season and festivities. Stroll through the beautiful and colorful Flower Markets throughout Hong Kong and join the locals to search for the perfect bloom. Narcissus, peach blossoms, orchids, citrus plants or kumquat trees (golden orange trees) are believed to bring good luck, wealth and prosperity for the upcoming New Year and if you pay close attention you will notice that almost every shopping mall, restaurant and shop are beautiful decorated with these kind of flowers. Similar to Christmas markets in Germany, Austria or Swiss these Chinese New Year Flower Markets open up the holiday season and bring the festive spirit with their colorful and aromatic displays of flowers. Dive into these local customs and make sure to enjoy some of the special food treats on the flower markets or pick up one of the unique Snake Year related souvenirs.
The Lunar New Year Flower Markets usually opens from 10:00am till late at night (such as 1:00am) depending which market you visit and which day of the New Year Celebrations you stop by. Please note that on Chinese New Year Eve and Chinese New Year some flower markets might open earlier and/or have extended hours (some even till 4:00am).
Insider Tips: The best time to visit is either in the early morning hours or early afternoon/evening hours (4:00 – 6:00pm), but be prepared for a massive crowd of people no matter which time slot you choose. If you really want to mingle with the crowds and would like to grasp the romantic Lunar New Year Flower Markets at night then you might want to visit around 6:00 – 9:00pm.
The admission to the Lunar New Year Flower Markets is free of charge.
How to Get to Flower Markets:
Hong Kong has several venues of these special Chinese New Year Flower Markets and visitors can choose from various locations. The biggest and most popular Chinese New Year Flower Markets are located in Victoria Park (Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island) and Fa Hui Park (Mongkok, Kowloon).
However, the Chinese New Year Flower Markets in Causeway Bay and Mongkok are not the only ones. Throughout Hong Kong ,there are several smaller ones which are off the beaten tourist tracks, but may be still worthwhile to visit especially if you would like get in touch with locals. Some are located close to major sightseeing or shopping attractions and can easily incorporated in a normal tour itinerary.
Cheung Sha Wan Playground (Sham Shui Po)
Morse Park (Wong Tai Sin)
Hong Ning Road Recreation Ground (Kwun Tong)
Man Yee Playground (Sai Kung)
Po Hong Park (Tseung Kwan O)
Kwai Chung Sports Ground (Kwai Tsing)
Tung Tau Industrial Area Playground (Yuen Long)
Sha Tsui Road Playground (Tsuen Wan)
Shek Wu Hui Playground (North District)
Shek Pai Tau Playground (Tuen Mun)
Tin Hau Temple Fung Shui Square (Tai Po)
Yuen Wo Playground (Sha Tin)
Cultural Activities [Go Back]
The time around Chinese New Year is full of seasonal traditions and rituals. Locals love to prepare and eat ‘lucky food’ or flock into temples to give thanks for the past 12 months and pray for good fortune for the New Year. Visitors have a great opportunity to experience and engage into these cultural Chinese New Year activities. Simply visit e.g. the Che Kung Temple to spin the Fortune Wheel for some good luck, make a wish at the Wishing Tree in Lam Tsuen, shake out a fortune stick for a New Year Prediction at the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple or simple burn some incense in one of the many temples in Hong Kong.
In case you are pressed for time and don’t want to travel to far, we highly recommend taking a closer look at the Man Mo Temple on Hong Kong Island or the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple on the Kowloon side to experience some local Chinese New Year customs, rituals and traditions.
Like any event during the Chinese New Year period, be prepared that it will be very crowded. Admission to the temples are free of charge, but we recommend to give a small donation to maintain the beautiful temples and art works.
How to Get to Flower Markets:
Hong Kong Island:
Che Kung Temple (Sha Tin)
Yuen Yuen Institute (Tsuen Wan)
Wishing Tree in Lam Tsuen (Tai Po)
Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade 2013 (January 25 – February 10, 2013) [Go Back]
One of the highlights of the Chinese New Year Celebration is the world-famous Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade. Sponsored by Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airlines for the 15th consecutive year, the 18th Chinese New Year Night Parade will enchant by young and old. About 36 beautiful decorated and colorful floats will wind its way through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) and along the Victoria Harbour front. Be assured that this area along the planned concourse will transform into a giant party. Aside from the beautiful decorated floats, you are able to watch and enjoy a whole bunch of international performers including marching bands, local dragon and lion dance teams, cheerleading groups, cultural dance performances and costumed cartoon characters and “cosplayers” giving out souvenirs.
The famous Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade 2013 will start right in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza (Tsim Sha Tsui). Then the parade will proceed to move along Canton Road, Haiphong Road and turn back along the famous Nathan Road to end in front of the Sheraton Hotel Hong Kong in the Salisbury Road.
Viewing along the parade route is free of charge. However, if you would like to sit right in front of the spectacle in the spectator stands at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza you have to purchase tickets. Tickets are available on a first come first basis ranging between HK$ 180 – 350 at the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Center at the Star Ferry Concourse in Tsim Sha Tsui (open daily from 8:00am-8:00pm)
The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade 2013 will last from 8:00pm – 9:30pm on February 10th, 2013. Starting from 6:00pm, there will be several performers and games to warm-up the crowds along the parade route. Spectator stands at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza will open at 7:00pm (for all of you purchased tickets for the parade).
In case you would like to enjoy the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade 2013 make sure to arrive way ahead (!) of the scheduled parade time. There are several special traffic arrangements due to the special events and usually, roads will be closed at least 2 hours before and after (!) the event. Make sure to calculate enough time to arrive early at the venue and prepare that it will get very crowded.
For all of you who won’t make it in time to get along the parade route, the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade 2013 will also be televised in National TV. In addition, for everyone who might have missed the incredible Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade 2013 or for everyone who would like to get a closer look at the beautiful floats to take some pictures, there are several opportunities. The floats will be on display at various locations around Hong Kong from February 11 – 17, 2013. At night, the floats will be illuminated and are a great photo opportunity. In addition, there will be special performances of some of the parade’s colorful groups on February 11 and 12, 2013.
Lunar New Year Fireworks Display 2013 (February 11, 2013) [Go Back]
One of the highlights of the Chinese New Celebrations in Hong Kong is the Lunar New Year Fireworks Display 2013. Be assured that thousands of people will watch and enjoy the stunning fireworks display in Victoria Harbour to welcome and celebrate the Year of the Snake.
This year’s Chinese New Year’s Firework will start at 8:00pm on February 11, 2013. Please refer to our review article to get all the insights where to find the best places to watch and enjoy the fireworks show.
Please be reminded that special traffic arrangements are in effect before and after the Chinese New Year’s Firework Show. This includes closure (!) of roads and MTR Exits. Be prepared for a very large crowd and we highly recommend to plan your arrival way ahead of the schedule fireworks time. In case you would like to watch the Chinese New Year’s Firework Show from one of our recommended listing, be sure to make reservations.
Horse Racing – Chinese New Year Race Day 2013 (February 12, 2013) [Go Back]
One of the wonderful and fascinating things about celebrating Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is the opportunity to participate and enjoy in the unique event of horse racing as a tradition. Is there any better way to kick-off the New Year with some betting and hoping for prosperity and wealth than at the world-famous horseracing event?
On the third day of Chinese New Year (February 12, 2012), Hong Kong holds the Chinese New Year Race Day at the Sha Tin Racecourse (New Territories). Being one of the most popular horse racing events of the year, the Chinese New Year Race Day 2013 will feature a full program of traditional and colorful festivities including a grand opening show, lion dance performances, a variety of cultural and entertainment performances and of course horse races. In addition, you might have a chance to spot one of the famous jockeys or pick-up one of the limited edition items and souvenirs at the Chinese New Year Merchandise Bazaar.
Entrance fee at the Sha Tin Racecourse venue is HK$ 10. There is also a special Tourist Badge Option for HK$ 100 which also you to have a one-of-kind horseracing experience within the Members’ Enclosure of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The tourist promotion applies only to tourist and in case, you would like to enjoy this exclusive Hong Kong Jockey Club Members experience make sure to take your valid passport with you.
The Sha Tin Racecourse opens its gate around noon and last until 6:00pm. The first actual horse race starts around 12:30pm at the Chinese New Year Race Day. Please read our related article for more information about horse racing in Hong Kong.