Celebrating Chinese New Year 2013 in Hong Kong
One of the 10 top holiday extravaganzas in the world...
Hong Kong's Chinese New Year celebration was recently listed by Forbes as one of the world's 10 best festival extravaganzas, up there with Germany's Oktoberfest and Brazil's Carnival. The first three days of the Spring Festival is a prime time to visit one of Asia's favorite travel destinations.
What makes it so good? A big International Chinese New Year Parade in the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui on February 10, 2013, an impressive fireworks display over Victoria Harbor on February 11, the Chinese New Year horse races on February 12, and the "world’s largest sound and light display" daily.
Lonely Planet also listed the Hong Kong Chinese New Year as one of the world's top events. Tour and to shop in one of the world's favorite cities for tourism. The first three days of the new Chinese year are optimal for a visit.
Chinese New Year Activities
A new feature to the Hong Kong New Year Festival 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 Spring Festival isn't all about grand spectacle events and shopping. People practice ancient customs handed down for generations. For example, the New Year's Eve family reunion and dinner is essential.
The Parade on New Year’s Day
Holiday Kickoff: The streets hop to the beating drums, and crowds enjoy the beat, the floats and the performers.
Crowds churn the streets and make way for the parade in Tsim Sha Tsui area near Victoria Harbor. It's the "Year of the Snake" according to traditional reckoning, and the parade will snake its way among some Hong Kong highlights such as the Avenue of Stars, Kowloon Park, and the Golden Mile of Nathan Road.
Floats proceed down the streets, and dozens of performing groups and bands perform. Several groups come from around the world. Before the parade, many entertainers entertain along the parade route that includes historic Nathan Road, Salisbury Road, Canton Road, and Haiphong Road.
Essential Parade Information
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. The Temple Street Market is a place to browse for bargains and snack or have a meal beforehand.
Stands: Special spectator stands will ensure you a close and more comfortable place. They will be set up on Nathan Road, Canton Road, and near the Hong Kong Cultural Center. Prices range from HK$350 to $180 per person.
Time: 8 pm coinciding with the Symphony of Lights. Eight is an especially auspicious number in Chinese cosmology. The parade assembles and proceeds out from near the Hong Kong Cultural Center. It ends about 9:30.
Fireworks Display on the Second Day
Day 2: Victoria Harbor blazes with fireworks, while the lights dance on the buildings.
On Day 2, February 11, 2013, Victoria Harbor is scheduled to roar with a giant half-hour long fireworks display with dancing choreographed fireworks.
It is an extraordinary pyrotechnic production accompanied by music. It is bigger and much longer than the regular New Year's fireworks on January 1st. Fireworks will snake up from some skyscrapers on the island, and blast over them. They also blast up from boats and barges set up in the middle of the harbor.
The extra-loud booming detonations are intended (according to Chinese tradition) to scare away the evil spirits from the whole area. This is hoped to make the Year of the Snake a fortunate one.
Where to Watch From
People watch from both sides of the Harbor. The best places to watch are along the north shore. There is a pedestrian promenade that extends along the shore from the Avenue of Stars and east for about a kilometer
Along with the promenade; Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai is also popular, and it is equipped with loudspeakers for narration and music. You'll hear some Chinese pop music.
The Avenue of Stars is the best public viewpoint, and you can also see the handprints and statues that commemorate Hong Kong's actors. From there, you can also hear the accompanying music and dialogue. Try to get to the best viewing sites early.
Time: 8 pm (25 to 30 minutes)
MTR Transport to the Avenue of Stars: Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exit L6, and then walk towards the harbor for a few minutes.
Horse Races on the Third Day
Day 3: The most popular races of all...
100,000 excited fans will crowd into Sha Tin Racecourse on the third day of the holidays. 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.
Jockeys will cheer the fans with messages for good luck. The featured race of the day is the Chinese New Year Cup.
Festive Shopping Spree
Promotions, discounts, and entertainment help holiday sales skyrocket.
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, hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese use their Chinese Spring Festival vacation time to go to Hong Kong. They take advantage of the low taxes and the wide selection of luxury products. 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 to overtake Americans as the world's leading consumers of luxury products.
Hong Kong is one of the premier places on earth for luxurious shopping and dining.
Local Festival Customs
Flowers and Plants
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 luxury brand shopping; it is the Hong Kong and Macau tradition of decorating with flowers and plants and giving them as gifts. It is like the Western tradition of the Christmas tree.
In Hong Kong and Macau, a lot of significance is attached to this custom, and the various kinds of flowers or plants given as gifts denote different wishes or signs and give good luck.
If you go to one of the major markets, be prepared for crowds. Special food, beautiful bouquets, and gifts are available in these markets.
For flowers in Hong Kong: Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island and the Flower Market in Mong Kok. A big Chinese New Year Flower Market is held in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. It begins about two weeks before the new lunar year and runs until Chinese New Year's Day.
For flowers in Macau: There is a traditional Chinese New Year's Eve flower market at Tap Seac Square.
More Mainland Traditions
House cleaning: It is customary to do a thorough house cleaning before the holidays. People throw away old clothes and articles, and buy new stuff to replace them. They want to prevent misfortune, clear out evil spirits and make way for better fortune.
The New Year's Eve Supper is a major tradition. Family's have an important traditional annual reunion, and they feast on pork, duck, chicken and sweet delicacies.
Fortune seeking: New Year's Eve is also when thousands of people go to local Daoist temples to pray for a good year and seek for good fortune.
Red money envelopes: On New Years Day, employees, younger relatives and children receive money in red paper envelopes, and people exchange gifts.
Future Dates of the Chinese New Year: Feb. 10, 2013; Jan. 31, 2014; Feb. 19, 2015.
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.
Weather: The weather in February is usually cool and dry.
If you plan on shopping, here are regular and luxury shopping tips and guides.
Middle-price shopping and finding bargains.Luxury shopping guide.
- Transportation in China for the Chinese New Year
- Chinese New Year Travel Tips; contact us and let us help you make travel arrangements.
- Chinese New Year Food
- Macau and Hong Kong Chinese New Year Flower Markets
- New Year Events in Various Cities
Hi Misty, if you'd like to secure an ideal place for photo shooting, you are suggested to go out in mid noon. But sorry, I don't know any "stand" tickets that can be purchased for guaranteed seating/standing room.Whitney Liao Replied on 2013-01-17
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