The Spring Festival is the biggest holiday in China. Hong Kong people celebrate differently than in the Mainland. They mark the occasion with a unique fusion of modern fun and ancient customs. The three days of night parade, giant fireworks, and horse racing often make it to the top of the lists of world festival events.
Hong Kong's Chinese New Year celebration was recently listed by Forbes as one of the world's 10 best festival extravaganzas, along with Germany's Oktoberfest and Brazil's Carnival. Lonely Planet also lists the Hong Kong Chinese New Year as one of the world's top events.
The first three days of the Spring Festival is a prime time to tour one of Asia's favorite destinations.
What makes it so good? There is a big International Chinese New Year's Parade in the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui on February 8, 2016, an impressive fireworks display over Victoria Harbor on the next day, and the Chinese New Year horse races on the third.
Ritzy or bargain shopping? While there, you can shop in one of the world's great cities for ritzy malls, luxury goods, and bargain shopping. The festivities include the "world’s largest sound and light display" daily.
Holiday Kickoff: The streets hop to the beating music, and the crowds enjoy the parade.
Crowds line the streets and make way for the parade in Tsim Sha Tsui area near Victoria Harbor. It will go by some Hong Kong highlights such as the Avenue of Stars, Kowloon Park, and the Golden Mile of Nathan Road.
Dozens of floats proceed down the streets with dozens of performing groups and bands. Before the parade, many entertainers will entertain along the parade route that includes historic Nathan Road, Salisbury Road, Canton Road, and Haiphong Road. The parade starts near the Avenue of Stars on the waterfront, but can you watch it at any place along the way.
In 2014, the 35 or so floats of companies and associations of around the world were preceded by groups of dancers, jugglers, marching bands, children, skaters and bikers of various nationalities. It shows that Hong Kong is an international city with influences from around the world.
Touring and shopping: Before the parade, you could tour the attractions and shop and dine. Hong Kong's biggest mall, Harbour City, is open along the parade route, as is iSquare that fills a skyscraper by Nathan Road. The Temple Street Market pedestrian street is a place to browse for bargains and snack or have a meal beforehand.
On Day 2 of the Spring Festival, Victoria Harbor is scheduled to roar with a giant fireworks display with choreographed pyrotechnics. It joins in with the daily record-setting Symphony of Lights with its colorful building lights and laser light show.
The most popular races of all... 100,000 excited fans will crowd into Sha Tin Racecourse on the third day of the holidays for horse races. The Chinese New Year races are a special event. It has always been Hong Kong's most popular horse racing event. On this unique race day, the Jockey Club (a nonprofit charity group) will feature a full program of traditional and colorful festivities.
There is a grand opening show, a featured lion dance, and a variety of cultural performances and entertainment. Professional jockeys will cheer the fans with messages for good luck. The featured race of the day is the Chinese New Year Cup.
Chinese people go shopping before and during the Spring Festival, and the huge crowds at shopping malls and markets make it an athletic challenge. People shop for holiday food, decorations, clothes, gifts, and furniture. Portable luxury products are now the star sellers.
Now, with newly opened borders, a new feature to the Hong Kong Chinese New New Year is an influx of 100,000s of cash-rich Chinese on holiday shopping sprees. They snap up the festival deals in huge quantities, and the malls entertain them. The mainland Chinese use their Spring Festival vacation time to go to Hong Kong and take advantage of the low taxes on the wide selection of luxury products and the hard to get imported products such as powdered milk. They carry them across the border to avoid stiff duties and control.
They come with cash, and the many major malls schedule special promotions, entertainment and displays to attract them. The Chinese may soon overtake Americans as the world's leading consumers of luxury products.
Shopping hours: Malls stay open and even extend hours for the shopping rush during Chinese New Year's Eve and the important first few days of the Chinese New Year. But small market street shops may close for a couple of days or close early. If you plan on shopping, here are regular and luxury shopping tips and guides:
What makes the Hong Kong Chinese New Year festivities different to those of mainland China isn't only the festival horse racing tradition and the luxurious shopping; it is the Hong Kong and Macau tradition of decorating with flowers and plants and giving them as gifts.
In Hong Kong and Macau, a lot of significance is attached to this custom, and the various kinds of flowers or plants that are given as gifts denote different wishes or signs and give good luck. Learn more about the Chinese New Year's Eve Flower Market rush on February 7, 2016.
The Spring Festival is by far the biggest travel period in China. People start to go on the move a few days before the New Year Day, and many don't come back until three or four weeks later if they are having an extended vacation. The busiest travel days extend from a few days before the Chinese New Year until about 8 days afterwards.
Unless you are interested in the holidays, it would be better to see Hong Kong at a less busy time. Travel is easier, and tickets, accommodations and restaurant meals cost much less. Also, Chinese businesses, restaurants, and stores traditionally close up for a several day vacation starting from the evening of Chinese New Year's eve.
Get your tickets as early as possible weeks or months beforehand since people snap up the available transportation for these dates. Demand is very high for international flight tickets, train tickets, and even for tickets for China's new bullet trains. Check the Chinese New Year dates>>
Plan and make trip arrangements: We can book your tickets and help with your hotel rooms and itineraries. We could provide guides, drivers, and private vehicles for great private tours for individuals and groups. We'll try to arrange your Hong Kong hotel rooms, Hong Kong flights, and China train tickets for a great trip.
Tour Hong Kong and Macau during Chinese New Year: Tour both Hong Kong and Macau for shopping and sightseeing during the big festival on this two-day tour.
You can create your own dream trip: Tailor-make your own Chinese New Year tour to visit the places you want in Hong Kong and China.