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Hong Kong has one of the world's most festive Christmases. Hong Kong people have celebrated Christmas perhaps the most grandly in all of East Asia. There is a two-day public holiday, and people usually enjoy dry, mild, and even sunny weather for Christmas.
It is usually a good time during tourist low season to see the world's favorite tourist city (28 million visitors in 2018). See the fantastic Christmas displays, enjoy fine food, and shop for Christmas.
Summary: While HK remains the world's No. 1 travel destination this Christmas, and it's now enticingly affordable, you may want to avoid the risks of inconvenience, disappointment, and physical harm, though this risk is slight if you stay away from any sign of protesting.
Travel in Hong Kong isn't as safe and convenient as in the past because, for the last half-year, there have been massive demonstrations in the whole region.
The violence and vandalism, including scattered arson, has been increasing, and tourism is way down, sometimes perhaps 60% less than previously. There have been violent confrontations between protesters and police. Groups of armed thugs (a counter-protest movement) have attacked protesters, passengers, and bystanders in train stations and in the streets, so now, most people try to stay off the streets after dark. Streets and shopping areas may be closed, transport has been disrupted, and tear gas is often used to disperse crowds.
Many of the traditional annual Christmas and New Year events have been canceled. The events described here are the regularly scheduled events. In attempts to stop the protests, the government will probably cancel big public events, and malls have decorated less due to the vandalism.
Great bargains: This Christmas and New Years' season may be the best time in decades for touring and shopping inexpensively and without the crowds of tourists! You can find great bargains on everything from hotel rooms (up to 70% off in Tsim Sha Tsui) to fine dining to discounted shopping.
December 2020 is a particularly good time to go for low prices and to enjoy shopping for bargains as the stores try to sell their stocks of products. You can enjoy the region's world-class facilities and service at much lower prices than for decades.
The American CNN television network named the Hong Kong WinterFest as one of the Top 10 places to spend Christmas in the whole world.
You will see the Christmas lights on dozens of buildings along Victoria Harbour choreographed in a light show with Christmas and New Year's decorations. During WinterFest, most of the city is aglow with festive lighting and laser imagery.
Victoria Harbour may be a dazzling sight especially when the fireworks burst in the light show on New Year's Eve night to mark the beginning of a new decade! However, in order to stop protests, the government might cancel this event and any other large gathering.
The Nutcracker is a world-renowned operatic ballet and a special Yuletide tradition enjoyed by audiences of all ages. It is set to a score by the famed composer Tchaikovsky.
The tale begins when a young girl named Clara receives a Nutcracker as a Christmas gift. The Hong Kong Ballet will feature sumptuous sets and costumes and live music by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. There will be jazzy 21st century choreography inspired by Terence Kohler.
The Hong Kong Philharmonic will present a special A Harry Little Christmas with Harry Wong, but this December 2019, it has been canceled. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is a professional orchestra sponsored by the HK government.
As part of the WinterFest, this high-tech laser audiovisual display has dazzled the crowds in and around the plaza of the clock tower at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. This area is adjacent to the Star Ferry Terminal. In Winterfest 2019, there will probably be no 3D light shows.
For the show, lasers tuned for 3D projection mapping play up pictures that fly around the plaza and the adjacent buildings. It is astounding and crowded. It is much more popular than the regular Symphony of Lights.
Address: Open Piazza, Hong Kong Cultural Center, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
Every night in December, you can head to Victoria Harbour and watch the free holiday light show of the Symphony of Lights. For Christmas 2019, the entire show has been revamped and modernized. Many more lasers and LED screens make a bigger spectacle than ever before.
The best light show view is along the Avenue of Stars promenade where you can see the 3-D Pulse show too when it is running and hear the narrative and music from the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
You can also watch while having a meal on a restaurant boat or while simply riding the Star Ferry during the Symphony of Lights display.
Loudspeakers broadcast music and an accompanying narrative. In December, a lot of buildings will display their own special Christmas light effects to complement the architectural choreography show.
This is a new feature of WinterFest. It is a government-sponsored luminescent art exhibit of lighted artworks of artists from many countries. It is on the Central Harbourfront and free to see. In winter 2020, there will probably be no Pulse festival.
Hong Kongers like to celebrate both the Western New Year and the Chinese New Year in a big way, but if you're there near midnight on December 31, 2019, you won't see the fireworks spectacular in the New Year's countdown. Some of the same buildings involved in the Symphony of Lights usually take part in this spectacle. On Dec. 31, 2018, a large crowd of about 36,000 people lined both sides of the harbor to watch.
This year, the Dec. 31 / Jan. 1 fireworks display has been canceled. There may still be the Chinese New Year Fireworks and Countdown for 2020 on January 24!
This was a new feature of WinterFest in 2018. It was a government-sponsored luminescent art exhibit of lighted artworks of artists from many countries. It was on the Central Harbourfront and free to see. In winter 2020, there will probably be no Pulse festival.
Disneyland will present amusement and entertainment starting November to New Year's Day.
In 2018, as dusk fell, the theme park featured “A Magical Twilight Snowfall” and the signature “A Holiday Wish-Come-True” Tree Lighting Ceremony. New in the park was a kiddies market called "Fantasy Gardens Wintertime Market" for buying gifts and treats.
Noah's Ark is an ideal place to take children for Christmas. It is innately child friendly, with traditional and novel Christmas activities.
Nativity Scene performances will be staged along with sports training weekends. For young girls, the park has featured "Bear's Sushi Production Class" to learn creative dishes; and for boys, the park's sports/obstacle course arena featured "Trolltech Sports Training School."
Excellent Christmas-themed family buffets will be hosted in their beautiful grand dining room at the bow of the Ark. The setting is memorable as it overlooks the channel. Enjoying the beach are other things to do to complete a fun day. The Ark building including a hotel, museum and dining facilities is a replica of Noah's Ark. It is on a good public beach with facilities.
Ocean Park will officially kick off the Ocean Park Christmas celebration. The entire park will be decked out with festive decorations such as a giant Christmas tree, artificial snow, and Santa's Cottage.
The park features Hong Kong's only virtual reality (VR) roller coaster. The Christmas Market will transform Waterfront Plaza into a Christmas Village for food and gifts.
Every shopping mall dons Christmas decorations, and the ritziest malls put up spectacular and expensive displays. 1881 Heritage near the Star Ferry Terminal, Harbour City, Langham Place, Elements Mall and the IFC Mall will put up dazzling, intricate and large displays.
1881 Heritage: The ritzy hotel on Victoria Harbour will build grand themed decorations in its front plaza.
Statue Square Christmas display: Every year, the best display is hosted at Statue Square by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. These will be epic displays put up by big jewelry companies such as BVLGARI. The Bank of China Tower skyscraper is a shiny crystal-like mirror backdrop.
Along with these big public events, churches, millions of local people, and many businesses, restaurants, and hotels will celebrate Christmas as well. Many of the excellent restaurants and hotels will have Christmas celebrations and special dinners that the locals attend.
In the days before Christmas and on Christmas Eve, groups of carolers from churches and schools will walk and sing in the parks and malls. You might spot groups of children, teenagers, and adults walking in Central, Kowloon Park and elsewhere joyfully singing. Music groups and orchestras will put on free concerts.
Many churches will put on special Christmas-related programs about Jesus' birth. Churches and many Christians take Christmas seriously with big religious events, carol singing, and special performances. See the Top 5 English Speaking Churches in Hong Kong.
In 2019, you'll find that all across the region, everything is at bargain prices. The local stores and malls have big backlogs of unsold products, and they need to sell their inventory to make way for new products.
Usually, there aren't pre-Christmas sales with lower prices to attract shoppers. Instead, during the Christmas to Chinese New Year winter shopping season, prices actually went up. However, the malls now attract customers through special Christmas displays and entertainment and low prices.
Christmas gifts of electronics, clothing, and other common items might be bought at the street markets such as Ladies Market in Mongkok (clothing, electronics, souvenirs, pets, jewelry, etc.). However, the shopping districts and malls are among the main places for protests, and there are police and officials patrolling and stopping people to question and search them.
Temple Street near the harbor is where you'll find a variety of products for tourists plus many open-air restaurants for Chinese food. For more information for this year, see Christmas Shopping in Hong Kong in 2019.
Hong Kong is a culinary capital. It is known for having more excellent restaurants than any other similarly-sized location in Asia (as ranked by Michelin and other such ratings bodies). Many of the world-class 4-star and 5-star hotels in Hong Kong will serve special Christmas dinners from about the 22nd of December until Christmas Day.
Hong Kong garnered 63 Michelin-starred restaurants in 2019, and many are quite affordable for the average tourist although they might not have special Christmas fare. Check our list of recommended restaurants in 2019. See The Best 18 Hong Kong Restaurants — Something for Everyone in 2019.
For a more Christian atmosphere for your Christmas celebration, a place to go is the Salisbury YMCA with a grand view of the Victoria waterfront. Within, two restaurants serve buffets. Several churches meet there on Sundays, and there is a Christian bookstore for gifts.
Macau provides an alternative place to go for fireworks, parades and celebrations that is fairly convenient this winter. You can travel between the two regions by bus or ferry in an hour and a half or less. You can enjoy Hong Kong's low shopping prices and hotels this year when you visit Macau.
You can easily travel between the two regions, and your visit to Hong Kong and Macau can cost less than it has for decades. With the construction of a new megabridge linking the two regions in 2018, transport between the two regions is easier than before. For more detailed Hong Kong travel information, see Hong Kong to Macau Transport.
Hong Kong has been the world's most popular tourist city. It was far ahead of London in terms of visitors, and about 10 million more visitors visited it than London in 2018.
The last half of December is usually an excellent time for touring Hong Kong. Our experts can help you have the best experiences. Airfares and hotel prices this year are unusually low, so it is a good opportunity for a Hong Kong tour at unheard-of prices. We can help you find the best deals on flights and hotel rooms.
For your Christmas holidays, we can arrange a fine Hong Kong tour for you and help you tour the Mainland as well.
Or let us help you plan a tailor-made Hong Kong tour.
You can easily send Christmas cards to your family or friends (from China). China Highlights has designed some exquisite Christmas e-cards.