No sooner has the Christmas period come to an end than it’s time for another one of our favourite holidays! Yep, we Hong Kongers are blessed with not just one, but two new years to celebrate, with all the attendant parties (and time off work!) that goes hand in hand with a big festival.
While some choose to stretch that vacation time by heading overseas, for those of us staying in the ‘852, there’s plenty to enjoy right here! Our Sassy Guide to Chinese New Year 2014 in Hong Kong includes all you need to know about festive field trips, foodie treats, carnivals, gifts and much more!
Festive Field Trips
Your first stop should be the stunning festive flower markets, the biggest of the bunch (get it?!) situated in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park and Fa Hui Park in Prince Edward. Adorn your apartment with lucky plants and the ubiquitous kumquat trees, a symbol of prosperity for the coming year. You’ll also find plenty of seasonal snacks, the all-essential lai see packets and even cute horse-themed toys (definitely an improvement on last year’s snakes!). The markets make for a colourful night out for the everyone to enjoy… sharpen your elbows on the last day to bag some bargain blooms!
When: 25-31 January 2014
Where: 14 parks and playgrounds all over Hong Kong including Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island and Fa Hui Park, Mong Kok, Kowloon. See here for more details
How much: Free!
Naturally, Hong Kong’s theme parks will have plenty going on to ring in the Year of the Horse. Hong Kong Disneyland sees Mickey and friends decked out in their festive finery, along with a golden walk of fortune and Mickey lai see coins. Heading Southside, Ocean Park always put on a good CNY bash, with dazzling decorations, and dedicated performances that will usher in the Year of the Horse with a gallop!
When: Throughout late January and early February 2014
Where: Hong Kong Disneyland, Sunny Bay, Lantau, Hong Kong; Ocean Park, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
How much: Disneyland: adults $450, children $320; Ocean Park: adults $320, children $160
For something a bit different, visit Lam Tsuen’s Wishing Tree to participate in the age-old custom of writing your hopes and dream for the year ahead on joss paper and throwing them into the tree’s branches, or releasing ‘wishing lanterns’ into the sky. There is also an exhibition centre for you to learn more about the tradition, plus special performances and shows, yummy food stalls and souvenirs aplenty. Just be prepared for the traffic jam to get into Tai Po on the way there.
When: 31 January-14 February 2014
Where: Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: Free; charges for some events may apply
How about something a little more sporty? Football fans will love the annual Lunar New Year Cup, which takes place at Hong Kong Stadium and promises thrills and spills aplenty! Our homegrown talent will pit themselves against three international teams over two days… go Hong Kong!
When: 31 January and 3 February 2014
Where: Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Po Recreation Ground, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
How Much: TBC – see the HKFA website for details, or call 2712 9122.
And a classic - Chinese New Year Race Day at Sha Tin Racecourse is lent extra significance this Year of the Horse (let’s hope that this bodes well for a little flutter!). Aside from the gee-gees, there will be live musical performances, a Feng Shui display area, yummy foodie treats and lots of lucky lai see to go around!
When: 2 February 2014
Where: Sha Tin Racecourse,
How Much: General admission is just $10!
You can also give thanks for the year that’s been, have your fortune told for the year ahead and stock up on some lucky amulets at one of Hong Kong’s many beautiful temples.
The Main Events
Tsim Sha Tsui’s annual Night Parade is a real must-see, with magnificent floats, hundreds of performers from all corners of the globe and a huge street party all to celebrate the Year of the Horse. This gets seriously busy, so arrive early to claim your spot.
You can either book a grandstand seat, cram along the parade route (the best vantage points are along Canton Road outside Harbour City, Haiphong Road or the junction of Nathan and Peking Roads outside Chungking Mansions) or watch from home – the entire event is broadcast on TVB Jade.
When: 31 January 2014; parade from 8-9.30pm, entertainment from 7pm
Where: Starts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui and proceeds along Canton, Haiphong and Nathan Roads, ending at Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers.
How much: Free viewing along the parade route; $300-400 for spectator seats at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza. Tickets can be purchased at Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre by the TST Star Ferry Pier.
Of course, the real biggie is the superb 23-minute fireworks display that takes place in Victoria Harbour each Lunar New Year and this year’s pyrotechnic fiesta will undoubtedly be as jaw-dropping as ever. If you really want to get up close and personal with the lightshow, various tour companies offer firework junk trips in the harbour (see our Junk Guide here!), or alternatively head to one of our tried-and-tested firework viewing spots and watch the celebrations go off with a bang.
When: 1 February 2014; 8pm
Where: Victoria Harbour between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui
How much: Free!
Carnivals & Festivals
The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre is running a whole host of cultural events in the lead-up to the holiday. Famed for the Cantonese opera performances, there will also be Chinese dances, a theatre fair, free exhibitions and a variety of musical concerts.
There will be Lunar New Year lantern carnivals and lantern displays taking place around Hong Kong throughout the festive period. With various displays themed around different subjects, expect to see some seriously spectacular lanterns on show!
Carnivals: 14 (TST), 15 (Tseung Kwan O) and 16 (Tin Shui Wai) February 2014, 7.30-10.30pm.
Lantern display: 23 January – 2 March 2013
Where: Hong Kong Cultural Piazza, Tsim Sha Tsui; Tseung Kwan O Po Chui Park, Tseung Kwan O, New Territories; Tin Shui Wai Park, New Territories.
Lantern display: Hong Kong Cultural Piazza, Tsim Sha Tsui; see full details here
How much: Free!
Don’t forget, you can even get a dose of CNY spirit while you’re hitting the shops! All the malls will have themed displays that will give you an excuse to take a breather from your spending spree and some may even have special music or dance performances too. Pacific Place, IFC, Elements and LANDMARK all promise to dazzle!
Of course, up there on the list of things to do this Lunar New Year is gathering the family (or your friends!) together to eat! Pretty much every restaurant in town will have something going on for CNY, so here’s just a selection of the places that are on the Sassy menu for a festive feast with a view or two! And if you have a sweet tooth then of course we’ve got you covered too! Needless to say, wherever you decide to go, make sure you book early to avoid disappointment (and to guarantee a good view!).
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong’s Lung King Heen was the first Cantonese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars in HK, and they have you covered with an array of dim sum and luxurious Chinese dishes – complete with lucky Chinese metaphoric names! Perfect for special gatherings, on the first day of CNY there’s also special dinner menus at Caprice if you’re into more of a western-style meal.
If you want to huddle up in a private room, Hutong is offering two menus featuring traditional six-course Chinese dishes, served amonst gorgeous Chinese décor and an amazing view of the V-Harbour! Opt for Aqua if you want to enjoy some char-grilled sea bass or Angus prime tenderloin with an equally amazing view.
Darksiders shouldn’t miss Langham Place’s The Place for either lunch or dinner buffet, with a complimentary abalone mini clay pot for every table during CNY. Of course, Ming Court also offers celebratory Chinese dishes and dim sum, as well as their signature Turnip Pudding and Crystal Wellness pudding made from wolfberries, fresh Chinese yam and chrysanthemum flowers, which is good for both eyes and tastebuds!
Wooloomooloo Prime and Wooloomooloo Steakhouse are, of course, the places to go for the scenery; with Prime giving you a birds-eye view, and Steakhouse letting you enjoy the fireworks al fresco. Special four-course dinner menus are available at both locations, with Wooloomooloo Steakhouse being the more wallet-friendly option.
For a firework feast complete with a six-course French seafood cuisine menu, check out The French Window Brasserie & Bar in Central. Alternatively, for an Italian semi-buffet – also with a stunning view of the 1 February fireworks – head to Wan Chai’s Assaggio Trattoria Italiana. We can’t really choose between French black truffle soup, crab meat and crème brûlée, or Italian roasted beef, tiger prawns and gelato!
New Territories ladies, fret not! You can get the whole traditional Chinese feast plus New Year puddings to take home all in one place at Hyatt Regency Hong Kong’s Shatin 18. Lobsters, bamboo clams, you name it! Shanghai Min is also a good option with several locations over the ‘Kong including Tuen Mun and Shatin. Do the Lo Hei (an Asian version of tossed salad with veggies and crispy bits – except you make wishes as you toss the noodles!) to ring in the Chinese New Year, or try their festive takeaway specialties.
Need some take-home puddings and sweet treats? Duddell’s Michelin-starred chef has whipped up a traditional New Year cake and a turnip cake in a pretty celebratory cake box for you to take home to family and friends. For yummy goodies with a twist, try Ladurée’s limited edition Lucky Charm box with 8 assorted macarons decorated with lucky horseshoes, available at Ladurée’s Harbour City, Causeway Bay and Landmark boutiques. Pierre Hermé Paris also redesigned the Initiation gift box for CNY, and it now fits 20 pretty macarons in a festive red and gold ring. For the chocoholics, what’s better than Godiva’s Year of the Horse Collection, featuring seasonal fruits in dark, milk and white chocolates?
Festive time is gift and décor time! Rather than covering your home entirely in red and gold drapes, or hitting Temple Street for cheesy souvenirs and joke gifts, how about some CNY-themed gifts that are that little bit sassier?
The most traditional – and perhaps hassle-free – gifts to give are of course gift hampers! Oliver’s The Delicatessen offers an assortment of gift hampers varying in size and content, which can be personalised if you wish. Hampers can be ordered and delivered without leaving your door (requires four days advance notice) so this is definitely the lazy option!
If you’re in need of a CNY fashion fix, good ol’ Marks and Spencer’s have launched the Very Berry, Very Red and lingerie collections, featuring head-to-toe outfits in gorgeous red and purple hues to keep you lucky all year long! Something for the boys and men in the house? We have our eyes on the cute PJs, trunks and cufflinks. Not to mention their food section for some last minute wine and snacks. See all M&S Hong Kong locations here.
Why not splurge on some new kicks for the Chinese New Year? Hogan has launched a special limited edition collection with gorgeous Chinese embroidery on ballet flats and heeled sneakers for you to choose from. Converse also has specially-designed high tops with horse trim. While we love the hints of gold on the designs, we’ve got dibs on the full red suede high tops!
Fancy a cuppa? For something different, check out TEAKHA’s tea almanac, which takes you through the 15 days of CNY with 15 packs of tea.
For the cool kids in your crib, make sure you bag the limited edition matte red and gold Year of the Horse BEATS by DR DRE Solo HD Headphones – sweet!
HK flag pool towels by Sleep Naked will add a patriotic twist to the home of any pround ‘Konger! Alternatively, add a splash of red and gold with some new cushions or artwork from Tequila Kola. We also love Hong Kong-themed ceramics, Chinese dining collection and recycled glass vase from TREE!
That’s it from us! Say “sssayonara” to the Year of the Snake and “howdy” to the Year of the Horse!