Lunar New Year - February 10
Hong Kong never fails to celebrate the incoming Lunar New Year with an awe-inspiring fireworks spectacle! Both sides of the iconic Victoria Harbour are expected to be filled with expectators on Chinese New Year's Eve to witness Hong Kong welcome the Year of the Snake with an astounding pyrotechnic display. The celebrations continue on New Year’s Day with a spectacular parade in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Hong Kong Arts Festival - February 21 - March 22
The Hong Kong Arts Festival is celebrating its 41st anniversary this year and special events are lined up including the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guv’nors; performances by the American cellist Esperanza Spalding; a version of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach; and a festival of Cantonese opera in Yau Ma Tei Theater, Hong Kong’s only remaining pre-WWII cinema building. Visit www.hk.artsfestival.org for more information.
Feast of Excited Insects - March 5
Every year on this day, Chingche or the Feast of Excited Insects is celebrated in Hong Kong. The day marks the transition from winter to spring, when insects are said to come back to life after hibernating all winter. It’s also the day you can pay elderly women to perform a ritual that will ward off bad luck and bring better fortune by bashing the devil or someone you hate. The rituals are done in various parts of the city but the most popular venue is the area under the Canal Road Flyover in Wanchai. Politicians and bosses tend to be the targets of these cursing rituals.
Buddha’s Birthday and Cheung Chau Bun Festival - May 17
The Cheung Chau Bun Carnival is one of Hong Kong’s major cultural events. It is also known as the Jiao Festival held in honour of Pak Tai, the Daoist deity and god of the north, who according to folklore was responsible for wiping-out plague and pirates which threatened the island of Cheung Chau in 1894. The festival incudes procession of ‘floating’ children, bun scrambbling competition, Chinese opera performances, lion and dragon dances, martial arts exhibitions and variety shows.
Dragon Boat Festival - June 12
Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Dragon Boat racing, which is now a popular and very competitive sport, is believed to have originated from the story of Chu Yuan, a well-loved scholar-statesman who drowned himself as a protest against the emperor who won't listen to his advice. Upon hearing of Chu Yuan's fate, people jumped on their boats and searched for him. They beat drums and made loud noises to scare fishes and prevent them from touching Chu Yuan's body.
The Dragon Boat Festival will not be complete without rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. The origin of this popular delicacy also stemmed from the story Chu Yuan. As a sign of respect to the lost scholar, people who lived near the river offered cooked rice in the water as a form of sacrifice. But the fishes started eating them so they wrapped the rice in bamboo leaves.
The most popular dragon boat races are the ones held at Stanley, on the south side of Hong Kong island but there are also races at Aberdeen (on Hong Kong island) or at Sai Kung, up in the New Territories, as well as on Cheung Chau.
Hungry Ghosts Festival - August 21
The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts is on the seventh moon in the Chinese lunar calendar, on the 14th day. It typically falls around mid to late August each year. But some years it is in Sept.
According to Chinese belief, the gate of Hell is said to be opened during the seventh lunar month, allowing Hungry Ghosts (troubled spirits who’ve died violently, or childless, with no one to honour their memory) to roam the earth. To appease these spirits, food operings and burning of paper money are made on street pavements. Chinese operas are also performed in some places such as King George V Memorial Park in Kowloon and Morton Terrace Playground in Causeway Bay.
Mid-Autumn Festival - September 19
Also known as the Moon Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The Chinese believe that the moon is the biggest, roundest and brightest during this day of the year. The roundness of the moon also symbolizes being together so families gather for reunions and stay awake to gaze at the moon. Individuals with a family of their own usually go to their parents' house to celebrate and have reunions. Others go to public places to light candles and lanterns while moon bathing and enjoying moon-cakes. The following day is a public holiday so nobody mind if they stay up late.