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.
The biggest event of the New Year, famed worldwide, is the Chinese New Year Night Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui. A procession of imaginatively decorated floats will parade down the streets, with entrants coming from all over the world. Expect drums, dragons and plenty of drama. The parade starts at 8 p.m. and continues until around 9:45 p.m. and will wind through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui before hitting the parade ground. The parade starts from Hong Kong Cultural Centre and proceeds along Canton, Haiphong, Nathan, and Sailsbury roads, before finishing at the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel.
To view the parade, pick a spot on the street for free, or buy tickets for the grandstand in advance. See Hong Kong's Chinese New Year website for full information, including where to watch and other tips.
What - Chinese New Year Parade
When - The First Night of the Lunar New Year
Where - Tsim Sha Tsui
MTR - Tsim Sha Tsui
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
Get Lucky at the Horse Races
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
During the three days of the Chinese New Year, Hong Kong's Wong Tai Sin and Che Kung temples are often busy with worshippers placing incense sticks at the altar for good luck and performing other traditional rituals.
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
During Chinese New Year pay a visit to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees and write your wish on the joss paper (known as ghost or spirit money) and throw it onto the tree (the higher, the better). Hopefully, it will not fall to the ground and 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.
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.
Stroll the Flower Market
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.