8 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year

A "Lucky Eight" Collection of Activities and Sights to See

Traditional Dragon decorations and ornaments

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There is something for everybody during Chinese New Year in Hong Kong with a long list of events to experience, from dragon dances to the action-packed Lunar New Year horse races. Hong Kong's Chinese New Year is usually celebrated in late January or February with parades and a huge fireworks display.

The first, second, and third days of the Lunar New Year are holidays in Hong Kong. Banks and some public offices will be closed and street markets usually close as well. Most shops and restaurants in the major shopping districts remain open with some malls having later hours—public transportation will be running. You can celebrate at major attractions and theme parks as they are open. Some shopping malls may even lengthen their service hours during the New Year.

01 of 08

Join the Chinese New Year Carnival

Performers dance at the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade in Hong Kong

Anthony Kwan / Stringer / Getty Images

The venerable Night Parade has expanded in duration and vision. Rebranded as the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Carnival, Hong Kong’s premier New Year parade now takes place over four days at the Art Park of the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Both international and local performing groups will take part in the daily parades along the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, the thousand-plus performers making up the greatest number of international performing troupes in the event’s history.

Tourists are welcome to take selfies at art installations set up throughout the venue; or experience any of the 15 booths in the attached Chinese New Year Market—from dining on Michelin-starred fishcake skewers to joining workshops on balloon twisting and face painting.

For 2020, the Chinese New Year Carnival runs from January 25, to 28, from 2pm to 8pm. Visit the official site for more details.

What - Chinese New Year Carnival
When - The First Night of the Lunar New Year
Where - West Kowloon Cultural District
MTR - Kowloon Station

02 of 08

Thrill at the Fireworks Show

Fireworks in Victoria Harbour during the Chinese new year, Hong Kong

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The second day of New Year sees boats pack the harbor and people thronging the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, particularly the Avenue of Stars, for the most spectacular fireworks show in the world (amazingly it's completely computer-controlled). The event is actually an extended version of Hong Kong's daily Symphony of Lights show. Many people rent a boat to get a perfect view from the harbor. If you're heading to the waterfront, you'll need to get there early, as it fills up quickly. The fireworks kick off at 8 p.m. These top five views of Hong Kong harbor make for ideal viewing spots.

What - Chinese New Year Fireworks
When - Second day of Chinese New Year at 8:00 p.m.
Where - Tsim Sha Tsui
MTR - Tsim Sha Tsui

03 of 08

Get Lucky at the Horse Races

Dundonnell wins the Chinese New Year Cup at Sha Tin racecourse

Lo Chun Kit / Contributor / Getty Images

If you know about the New Year Superstitions, you can find out if your efforts to draw good luck have paid off by heading to the horse-racing track. The Sha Tin racecourse will be adorned with lanterns and there will even be a lion dance. For race fans, one of the major attractions is the Chinese New Year Cup.

What - Lunar New Year Races
When - Third day of the Lunar New Year at 11 a.m.
Where - Sha Tin
MTR - Sha Tin Racecourse 

04 of 08

Visit a Temple

Man Mo Temple interior

Courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board

During the three days of the Chinese New Year, Hong Kong's temples are often busy with worshippers placing incense sticks at the altar for good luck and performing other traditional rituals.

The Man Mo Temple honors the Taoist god of literature Man Cheong, and the god of war and fighting, Mo Tai. Its smoky central chamber hosts locals praying for success or giving thanks for their answered prayers. Address: Hollywood Road

The Wong Tai Sin Temple is Hong Kong's largest and most popular temple.
Address: 2 Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon

The Che Kung Temple at Sha Tin was built in honor of Che Kung, a military commander of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) whose power for suppressing uprisings and plagues made him a household name. There is a large statue of him at the temple.
Address: Che Kung Miu Road, Tai Wai, New Territories

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Make a Wish

Prayer scrolls at Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree.

Huw Jones/ Getty Images

 During Chinese New Year pay a visit to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees in the New Territories, and participate in the Hong Kong Well Wishing Festival.

To join in on the fun, buy a piece of joss paper (usually tied to an orange) and write your wish on the paper. You’ll then throw the orange and its attached paper onto the tree (the higher, the better). With some luck, your orange will catch on a branch, and your joss-paper wish will be granted as a result! Locals believe that the higher your joss paper makes it on the tree, the greater the chances your wish will be granted.

The trees get so full of wishes, that wishes are also made by tying joss paper to nearby wooden racks or imitation trees. The trees are located near the Tin Hau Temple in Fong Ma Po Village, New Territories.

06 of 08

Try Holiday Foods

Chinese New Year party table

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During the Chinese New Year, treats (each bearing a particular blessing) are offered to guests in an ornate red snack box called chuen hap. The eight traditional sweets are candied shredded coconut, lotus seeds, bamboo shoots, kumquat, lotus root, coconut ribbons, and winter melon.

Other treats such as deep-fried peanut pastries and deep-fried sesame balls are also popular and will be found at local markets prior to and during Chinese New Year.

07 of 08

Stroll the Flower Market

Chinese New Year Market

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A typical thing to do during Chinese New Year is to go to the flower markets. It is believed that this will bring good fortune—flowers signify wealth. From the 24th day of the previous year to the morning of the first day of Chinese New Year, flower markets will pop up all around Hong Kong. The one in Victoria Park is the largest.

Victoria Park in Causeway Bay has sports fields and a green. It's a popular spot for Tai Chi practitioners who gather there at dawn. The New Year's flower market is a colorful, bustling market filled with families searching for the best symbolic flower or perfect kumquat tree.

08 of 08

Trek Up to the Big Buddha

Hiking up Ngong Ping Trail, Hong Kong

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A vigorous mountain hike is in the cards for active Hong Kongers on the first day of Chinese New Year, in line with the tradition that going uphill portends an upward swing in fortunes.

For a hiking challenge that honors the spirit of the festival, climb the 3.5-mile Ngong Ping Trail on Lantau Island that starts at Tung Chung and takes four hours to reach the end of the trail at Ngong Ping. The trail almost exactly follows the alignment of the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, and was built to facilitate the maintenance of the cable car system.

At the top of the trail, you’ll find the Po Lin Monastery facing the Tian Tan Buddha (the “Big Buddha”), the world’s largest outdoors sitting Buddha. Sit down to Chinese vegetarian lunch at Po Lin Monastery, before either riding the Cable Car back down or trekking back the way you came!