Hong Kong is where East meets West and old merges with new to create a dynamic kaleidoscope of cultures, entertainment and culinary feasts.
In 2018, this cosmopolitan city will combine all of these elements plus more to deliver an events and festival calendar that will take any visit to the next level. Here are a few events and festivals which showcase the best of Hong Kong over the next twelve months:
21 January: Hong Kong Marathon
Elite runners from around the world will compete in Hong Kong‘s largest outdoor sporting event, the Hong Kong Marathon. The event has seen huge growth in popularity since its conception in 1997 when just 1,000 competitors participated, to now attracting tens of thousands of participants last year. It is expected to be even bigger this year with a full marathon, a half marathon and a 10km run taking competitors past some of the best urban scenery Asia’s world city has to offer. The fierce competition is just as exciting for spectators as it is for runners, with the 42.195km full marathon starting in the scenic Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon, racing up into the New Territories and heading back down to a spectacular finish in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island.
16-18 February: Chinese New Year
Regarded as Hong Kong’s largest and most colourful festival, visitors and locals alike will be caught up in the energy and atmosphere of Chinese New Year, Hong Kong style. Squeeze into temples to pray for good fortune, browse festive markets selling auspicious foods and blooms, take in the red lanterns that adorn the city or sit back and enjoy one of Hong Kong’s most anticipated annual events, the International Chinese New Year Night Parade. 2018 is also regarded as the ‘Year of Earth Dog’, starting from Chinese New Year on 16 February 2018 until 4 February 2019.
1-31 March: Hong Kong Arts Month
Hong Kong’s flourishing arts scene comes alive in March and adds a unique edge to the shimmering city with an inspirational spectrum of events. From opera to ballet or art installations to seminars, there’s something to suit all tastes.
29-31 March: Art Basel
Art Basel is an international art fair with three shows staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. Each show is organised into sectors which showcase contemporary artworks by established and newly emerging artists. The 2018 edition will feature 248 premier galleries from 32 countries and territories. Underlining Art Basel’s commitment to the region, half of the participating galleries once again have exhibition spaces in Asia and Asia-Pacific. The show provides an in-depth overview of the region’s diversity through both historical material and cutting-edge works by established and emerging artists.
6-8 April: Hong Kong Rugby Sevens
The world’s greatest rugby players will descend on the vibrant city of Hong Kong for the forty-third Rugby Sevens tournament in April. The roar of more than 120,000 passionate spectators will engulf the stadium to create an electric atmosphere as international teams battle it out for glory and honour. The three day event will be held at Hong Kong’s largest outdoor sports venue, Hong Kong Stadium. Located amongst the foothills in the south of Causeway Bay, the stadium delivers picturesque surrounds with easy access via the MTR (Hong Kong’s railway system), plus loads of surrounding restaurants and bars where visitors can refuel. But the party doesn’t stop there, the whole city embraces the excitement from fancy dress costumes to the Fan Zone in Central and special dedicated events, it’s a Rugby fiesta.
19-23 May: Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Every year the people of Cheung Chau get busy making papier-mâché effigies of deities, preparing costumes, baking buns and building a bamboo tower, they’re preparing to welcome thousands of people for the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. The festival originated following a plague that devastated Cheung Chau in the late Qing dynasty (1644–1911), the islanders built an altar in front of the Pak Tai Temple and petitioned the god Pak Tai to drive off the evil spirits besieging the island. The plague ended after the performance of these Taoist rituals and 100 years later the rituals are still performed in a festival that is listed as an intangible part of China’s cultural heritage. The weeklong event includes Taoist ceremonies and music, a parade, lion dances, drum beating and an exciting bun scrambling competition.
22-24 June: Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival
In June, local and international teams will descend on the buzzing city of Hong Kong for the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, which is also known as the Tuen Ng Festival. The carnival dates back 2,000 years and commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese national hero. The highlight event takes place on Victoria Harbour where fierce-looking dragon boats compete in a lively colourful spectacle. Teams of 12-28 paddlers race the elaborately decorated dragon boats, to the beat of heavy drums and encouragement of spectators.
July/August: Summer Fun
Hong Kong shines in summer with an array of events and activities scattered throughout Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Discover local bites in hidden neighborhoods, local art installations, join a themed tour or just relax in one of the many public spaces. Shop, eat and play.
September-July: Horse racing
Hong Kong’s racing season starts in September and runs to July of the following year. Meetings every Saturday and Sunday at Sha Tin and Wednesday night at Happy Valley provide a taste of the local passion for racing. Key events on the racing calendar include the Hong Kong Derby (March), the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (April) and Hong Kong International Races (December), when some of the richest racing purses in the sport attract horses and jockeys from all over the world and the competition is intense.
23-25 September: Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance
It takes 300 performers and over 24,000 incense sticks per night to continue the nineteenth century traditional of this three-day performance. The feature piece of this festival is a 67-metre dragon, which consists of 32 sections and whose head alone weighs 48kg. The festival started around 100 years ago after a series of unfortunate events including a typhoon, a plague and a python. The villagers decided the only way to stop these unfortunate events was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming festival. The villagers made a huge dragon from straw and covered it with incense sticks. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights — and the plague disappeared. The fiery ancient ritual is still recreated and celebrated each year.
24 September: Mid Autumn Festival
“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart”. This quote, from a historical Chinese poem, has formed the underlining foundation for the Mid Autumn Festival which centers around the moon. The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates unity in Chinese culture which is symbolised through the round shape of the full moon. Dating back to the early Tang dynasty (618–907), families would gather to make offerings of osmanthus-flavoured wine, spherical fruits such as pears, grapes, pomegranates and of course mooncakes to the heavens, to express gratitude for a strong harvest as well as enjoy a reunion with relatives who live far away.
Mooncakes are believed to have originated from Yuan-dynasty (1271–1368) revolutionaries, who are said to have used the pastries to pass secret messages between each other. Traditionally, mooncakes are infused with embedded egg yolks and lotus seed paste, although Hong Kong now offers a variety of combinations for all taste buds.
Celebrate all things cycling in Hong Kong with the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon. With a mixture of amateur and professional races and rides, the event allows participants to push themselves to the utmost or enjoy the city’s scenery on long leisurely rides, while locals and visitors alike cheer on competitive cyclists from around the world and enjoy the carnival festivities.
25-28 October: Wine and Dine Festival
The CCB (Asia) Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival brings together world-class food, drinks and entertainment right next to the stunning Victoria Harbour skyline. Aside from wine-pairing meals designed by master chefs and tasting classes by industry experts, there are more than 400 booths featuring everything from single malts to craft beer to keep your palate refreshed.
1-30 November: November Feast
Set your tongue tingling with the Hong Kong Great November Feast, a month-long series of gourmet happenings, with everything from special tasting menus and world-class wine and spirit expos, to Michelin stared food stalls and local gastronomy tours.
December: Formula E Hong Kong E-Prix
With the latest innovations in electric vehicle technology on show, Formula E is an exciting attraction for both car lovers and racing enthusiasts alike. Fans can expect a host of new cars that have never been seen before in Hong Kong. Throughout the race weekend, the Allianz E-Village will serve as centrepieces for entertainment and lifestyle content. Here, visitors can expect a range of engaging, immersive and interactive experiences to keep busy between races. One of the most innovative concepts to emerge from Formula E is FanBoost, which allows fans to give their favourite drivers an extra boost of power during the race. FanBoost bridges the worlds of analogue and digital sports to create a level of dialogue unrivalled in motorsport.
1 December to 1 January: Winterfest
Hong Kong’s sparkles a little more than usual during the winter months as the city embraces the festival season. Soak up the romance ambience under the iconic Statue Square Christmas Tree; watch Victoria Harbour light up with two nightly dazzling multimedia shows, A Symphony of Lights and the Hong Kong Pulse Light Show or wander the streets and take in the local ambience. There are also special events at top attractions, shopping offers and festive menus that will fuel your excitement and add to the festive cheer.
31 December: Hong Kong New Year Countdown Celebrations
Hong Kong knows how to party and New Year’s Eve celebrations are no exception. Every New Year’s Eve the radiant Victoria Harbour is the belle of the ball for Hong Kong’s spectacular countdown. With multimedia and fireworks displays every 15 minutes from 11pm, bursts of shimmering lights will shower Hong Kong bidding farewell to 2018 and welcoming in 2019.