Events & Festivals
Reflecting its history of both Chinese and Western influence, Hong Kong celebrates festivals from both calendars – Christmas, Buddha’s Birthday, and a series of modern events designed specifically to draw visitors! All of the regular Chinese festivals are held along with a host of other traditional celebrations.
Rugby Seven’s (March/April) – The Sevens is a major event on the world rugby circuit and sees hordes of fans from around the globe converge on Hong Kong. Hotels are booked to capacity and everything is busier so, unless you’re coming to watch the matches, it’s a period worth avoiding.
Hong Kong International Film Festival (April) – One of Hong Kong’s most prestigious events, this attracts film lovers from around the world. It last two weeks and features screenings of local and international movies around the city.
Buddha’s Birthday (April/May) – Although this day is celebrated at Buddhist temples throughout Hong Kong, it’s worth heading to Po Lin Monastery on Lantau to watch worshippers bathing Buddha’s statue.
Tin Hau’s Birthday (late April/May) – Tin Hau is the local goddess of the sea (also known as A-Ma in Macau and Mazu on the mainland and in Taiwan) whose importance in Hong Kong is signified by the fact that over 100 temples in the territory (and an MTR station) are dedicated to her.
Tin Hau’s Birthday is celebrated by processions laden down with religious icons and brightly decorated paper offerings, which make their way to the various temples around the territory. Once at the temple, there are fireworks and further festivities. The Tin Hau Temple in the district of the same name on Hong Kong Island is a good place to witness the celebrations.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival (May) – The origins of this unique festival are somewhat uncertain but it falls on the birthday of another important regional deity, Pak Tai, and is held on the small island of Cheung Chau. The festival sees enormous bamboo towers festooned with traditional Chinese buns and in the past these structures were ascended by the brave, who grabbed as many buns as they could on the way up. The festival culminates in a colorful street procession featuring children on stilts. Thousands of residents and tourists alike flock to see the festival.
Shopping Festival (August) – The annual shopping festival combines promotional rates and shows to attract visitors to Hong Kong’s legion of malls.
Mid-Autumn Festival (September/October) – This is celebrated with the usual mooncakes, along with lanterns and a giant dragon dance in the district of Tai Hang south of Causeway Bay. The dance originated over 100 years ago when the inhabitants of Tai Hang were struck by a plague and then a typhoon a few days before the festival. They say that bad things happen in threes and while the villagers were repairing the typhoon damage a snake came and ate their livestock.
To overcome their run of bad luck, the villagers made an enormous straw dragon, lit firecrackers and danced for three days. Sure enough, all their problems were solved and they have been performing the dance for the Mid-Autumn Festival ever since.
Quiksilver Hong Kong Surfing Cup (December) – This annual surfing tournament draws ever larger crowds to Big Wave Bay on Hong Kong Island.