One of the most important holidays is coming up in Hong Kong: Chinese New Year. Although, there are more than plenty of choices to party and celebrate in Hong Kong all year around, you should not miss out the spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations.
For 2012 Chinese New Year is on January 23rd (the first day of Chinese Lunar Calendar). From January 17th to February 6th, 2012, Hong Kong celebrates and welcomes the Year of the Dragon. The complete city welcomes the Year of the Dragon with a whole bunch of activities and events. Believe us, experiencing the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Hong Kong are unforgettable. There are a whole range of activities you can join and enjoy such as breathtaking fireworks, spectacular parades, colorful New Year flower markets, sport activities, special celebrations at temples, Lion Dance performances in Victoria Harbor or shopping malls and last but not least the famous Chinese New Year Horseracing spectacle.
In the following we would like to provide you an overview of the most colorful, impressive and spectacular events. But before we start, we would like to remind you: no matter which event, activity or show you would like to watch or join, be aware that it will be very, very (!) crowded.
• Flower Markets (Jan 17 – Jan 22)
• Cultural Activities (Jan 23 – Feb 6)
• Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade (Jan 23)
• Lunar New Year Fireworks 2012 (Jan 24)
• Horseracing – Chinese New Year Race Day (Jan 25)
• Theme Park Holiday Events, Sports and Other Events
Flower Market ( Jan 17 – Jan 22 ) [Go Back]
The Chinese New Year Celebrations usually starts with the famous and very colorful flower markets. Similar to other countries such as Germany, Austria or Swiss which have Christmas markets to open-up the holiday seasons, Hong Kong has several flower markets. As the name already indicates the main purpose of the flower markets is to hunt for the perfect flowers such as Narcissus, peach blossoms, orchids, citrus plants or kumquat trees (golden orange tree) which are believed to bring good luck, wealth and prosperity for the coming year. If you pay attention almost every shopping mall, restaurant, store or home has these kinds of flowers and trees for decoration. Besides shopping for the perfect bloom, visitors can enjoy special food treats on the flower markets, buy special Dragon and Chinese New Year related souvenirs or kick-off the shopping seasons with the locals.
The flower markets are usually open from 10:00am till late at night such as 1:00am depending which market you visit and on which day of the New Year Celebrations you visit. Furthermore, the markets might open earlier and have extended hours (some even till 4:00am), especially on Chinese New Year Eve and Chinese New Year. The best time to visit is either in the early morning hours or early afternoon/evening hours (4:00-6:00pm). But no matter which time slot you choose, be prepared for a massive crowd of people!
How to get there:
So where are the flower markets located? There are several venues of these special Chinese New Year flower markets, but the main and biggest flower markets are in Victoria Park (Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island) and Fa Hui Park (Mongkok, Kowloon).
These are not the only flower markets. There are many more, but smaller and for many visitors may be not so attractive to visit since there off the beaten tracks. Nonetheless, we would like to provide you some of the venues below since we believe that these flower markets are still worth to have a look, especially if you want to get in touch with locals and or coming from Shenzhen or Mainland China side and don’t want to travel too far. Some of them are close to some sightseeing or shopping attractions (e.g. if you are looking for computers in Sham Shui Po, you can have a look at the Cheung Sha Wan Playground or if you are interested in the Wong Tai Sin Temple just stop by the Morse Park)
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 ( Jan 23 – Feb 6 ) [Go Back]
Blowing and Turning the Wind Chime to Bring Good Luck
Chinese New Year is not only a great opportunity to see and experience locals in seasonal rituals, but also have a chance to participate in these activities. Why not trying to shake out a fortune stick for a New Year prediction, spinning the Fortune Wheel for good luck in the Che Kung Temple, making a wish at the Wishing Tree in Lam Tsuen or burn some incense sticks in one of the many temples for good fortune in the New Year? And the best part of these activities: admission to temples in Hong Kong is free. Still we recommend giving some donation to maintain the beautiful temples and art works.
The Wishing Tree in Lam Tsuen-People try to throw the golden orange tied with a paper written with their wishes as high as possible
Making A Wish in Lam Tsuen
Put Your Wish on A Little Lotus
Traditional Decorations in Chinese New Year
If you don’t want to travel too far, we highly recommend having a look at the Man Mo Temple on Hong Kong Island or the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple on the Kowloon side. For all of you who are interested in true Hong Kong culture and rituals don’t miss the opportunity to stop by at the Wishing Tree in Lam Tsuen (Tai Po). There is a lot of tradition at this site. Enjoy the traditional Poon Choi Feast, the Lantern Lighting for new born babies or simple make your wish at the Wishing Tree. Click here for an overview of Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree activities.
How to get there:
Hong Kong Island
Man Mo Temple
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Che Kung Temple (Sha Tin)
Yuen Yuen Institue (Tsuen Wan)
Wishing Tree in Lam Tsuen (Tai Po)
Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade ( Jan 23 ) [Go Back]
Starting at 8:00pm on January 23rd, 2012 is one of the most loved Chinese New Year’s celebrations in Hong Kong: the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade. This spectacle is for young and old, locals and international visitors alike and really one-of-a-kind fun activity to watch and enjoy. Sponsored by Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airlines, the Chinese New Year Night Parade features approx. 36 beautiful decorated and themed floats. In addition to these floats from different countries and regions are a whole bunch of international performers such as cheerleading groups, marching bands, local dragon and lion dance teams, cultural dance performances, costumed cartoon characters and artistic cycling and roller skating performances as well as dress-up local artists and “cosplayers” giving out souvenirs.
The parade moves through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) and will turn the harbor front area as well as the places along the planned concourse in a giant party area. The 17th Chinese New Year Night Parade will start right in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza before moving into Canton Road. Then the parade will proceed along Haiphong Road and the famous Nathan Road and will end in front of the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel in Salisbury Road.
Viewing along the parade route is free, but 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 at a first come first serve basis and range between HK$ 180 – 350 depending where you want to sit. For all of you who are interested to purchase tickets: Ticket sales will start on January 14th and are available at the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre at the Star Ferry Concourse in Tsim Sha Tsui (they are open daily from 8:00am-8:00pm).
The complete parade will last from 8:00pm – 9:30pm and will be televised. The spectator stands open at 7:00pm. It is highly advised to arrive way ahead (!) of the scheduled parade time. Usually, roads will be closed at least 2 hours before and (!) after the event. Calculate enough time to arrive to early due to the fact that public transportation also will be highly crowded.
For all of you who missed the incredible Chinese New Year Night Parade or for all of you who simply want to have a closer look at the floats and take some pictures there is an up-close chance. In the last few years, the floats have been on display at various locations around Hong Kong. From January 24th till February 6th, 2012 interested parties have again this great opportunity. In addition, there will some special performances by international performances on January 24th and 25th.
Lunar New Year Fireworks 2012 ( Jan 24 ) [Go Back]
Fireworks Displays are always great in Hong Kong – no matter if you watch them at the Chinese National Day, the Western New Year celebration on December 31st or the Lunar New Year Fireworks for the Chinese New Year Celebration.
This year’s Lunar New Year Firework will start at 8:00pm on January 24th, 2012. Be prepared for an amazing and stunning 23 minutes (!) firework show. As usual the firework will be launched from barges in Victoria Harbor between Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui.
Take your small radio or cellphone with FM transmitter with if you like to listen to synchronized music during the fireworks and turn the dial to FM 97.6 – 98.9 (RTHK Radio 4).
For the best places where to watch the spectacular fireworks show please refer to our review article of Where are the best places to watch Hong Kong fireworks show.
We also would like to remind you be there ahead of time since there are special arrangements for transport and traffic in effect including closure of roads and MTR exits. If you would like to watch the firework show from one of our recommended listing, be sure to make reservations.
Crazily crowed in front of Hong Kong Convention Center, waiting for fireworks in Chinese New Year
Horseracing – Chinese New Year Race Day ( Jan 25 ) [Go Back]
On every year the third day of the Chinese New Year (January 25th, 2012), you have the opportunity to enjoy a unique Hong Kong tradition: the Chinese New Year Race Day. Having been to Hong Kong without being at the horse races is like being in Japan and not trying sushi, the USA and not trying a Hamburger or Germany and not trying the famous beer.
Some horse racing fans would argue that horse racing and Hong Kong could be used as synonyms. We wouldn’t go this far, but we have to admit that watching and enjoying a day at the horse races is one unique Hong Kong adventure that no one should miss. For a closer look at the horse racing venues, options, how-to-get-there and impressions please refer to our horse racing article.
For all who are interested to have a look or want to kick-off the New Year with some betting and hoping for prosperity and wealth here are the facts:
The Chinese New Year Race Day is held at the Sha Tin Racecourse venue in the New Territories. Admission starts from 10:30 am on January 25th, 2012. Entrance fee is usually HK$ 10, but if you would like to have a one-of-a-kind horse racing experience we highly recommend taking the Tourist Badge option for HK$ 100. This tourist promotion applies only for tourist. So make sure to take your valid passport with you to enjoy special Hong Kong Jockey Club Member treatments giving you access to the members only enclosures.
The actual races start at 12:30pm.
Other Chinese New Year Celebrations [Go Back]
Hong Kong Disneyland ( Jan 13 – Feb 5 )
From January 13th till February 5th, 2012 Hong Kong Disneyland celebrates the Year of the Dragon. Beloved Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto or Minnie Mouse will dress up in special Chinese New Year costumes. In addition, Mushu the famous dragon from Disney’s Mulan will be appearing in the theme park. Try to catch Mushu to get some special dragon wishes and luck in the Year of the Dragon. In addition, there are a whole bunch of live performers performing a Dragon Procession, which you should not miss. Also make sure to take a Journey around the Lucky Trail. There are different Disney characters along the Lucky Trail wishing you luck in the Year of the Dragon. The centerpiece of the Lucky Trail is at the front of the famous Disneyland Castle – the Dragon Lantern. Use the opportunity to take some unique photos at this place to remember the start of the Year of the Dragon. And last but not least, there are wide selections of special Year of the Dragon Hong Kong Disneyland merchandise and toys for all your toy collectors and hunters out there. You can click the link to know more about the activity in Hong Kong Disneyland for the year of dragon. For more information about opening hours, how-to-get-there and overview of the theme park please refer to our Hong Kong Disneyland article.
Madame Tussauds Hong Kong ( Jan 17 – Feb 6 )
Besides the already mentioned Hong Kong Attractions Fun Deals 2012 Promotion, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong has an additional way to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. Gold-laden paper-cut dragons, peddler drums and Chinese knotting will be the main decoration of the famous wax museum. Displaying these items and decorating the wax museum are supposed to help with good fortune and prosperity in the New Year.
Asian Challenge Cup ( Jan 23 and Jan 26 )
The Asian Challenge Cup is another sporting highlight of the year. Not only local soccer fans have been long waiting to watch and celebrate this classic tournament. If you love soccer, you might want to take this opportunity to enjoy the Chinese New Year celebration with this special soccer event. Three Asian teams (Chinese Guangzhou R&F, Korean Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Japanese Shimizu S-Pulse) will come to Hong Kong and challenge Hong Kong South China team from Jan 23rd to Jan 26th.
The 40th Hong Kong Arts Festival 2012 ( Jan 28 – Mar 8 )
The 40th Hong Kong Arts Festival starts from January 28th and lasts till March 8th, 2012. During the Chinese New Year Period the Hong Kong Arts Festival offers a wide range of concerts, ballets, opera, dances and orchestras performances. If you are interested in Chinese Operas we highly recommend marking down the dates of February 10-12, 2012 in your calendar. The Beijing Opera “A Tribute to Laosheng Master Ma Lianliang” will be performed and is a good opportunity to experience some classic Chinese arts, culture and tradition. Even if you are not interested in the Chinese operas you might want to have a look at the different events and performances.
Hong Kong Marathon 2012 ( Feb 5 )
The Hong Kong Marathon 2012 is the largest outdoor sporting event in Hong Kong. Although, the quotas for all race categories are full you might want to have a look at this event. Sponsored by Standard Chartered (one of Hong Kong’s three money issuing banks) this sport event attracts some of the world’s top runners. May be you have a chance to spot one of the best runners from the world.