Kung hei fat choi!
It’s almost the Year of The Dog, which means we’re finding ways to celebrate Chinese New Year, 2018. Although many families use this time to flee the 852 (check out these last minute trips for CNY), plenty of us stick around and enjoy some much needed peace and quiet. We’ve put together a handy list of things to do with the family over the public holidays (Friday, 16 February – Monday, 19 February). From main events happening around town to decadent dining deals and restaurants with views of the fireworks, there really is something to suit every taste…
Cathay Pacific Parade
One of HK’s most beloved CNY events is back to ring in the Year of the Dog! The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Parade is an extravaganza of music and colours, with a festive feeling in the air all around you! Float after float, each one is more lavish than the last. Be wowed by live performing artists who don’t seem to spare an ounce of their talent, and watch the TST Harbourfront turn into a giant street party. 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: Friday, 16 February, 8pm-9:45pm
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; $480/$450/$300 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza. Tickets can be purchased at Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre by the TST Star Ferry Pier.
The CNY fireworks are a magnificent display of beautiful colours bursting in the sky. Let’s just hope the sky cooperates so we can truly enjoy the grand spectacle! The world-class show takes place in Victoria Harbour each Lunar New Year. Enjoy the show from a high vantage point, or cosy up on the sofa with the family and watch it on your telly while munching away on some traditional CNY grub.
When: Saturday, 17 February, 8pm-8:30pm
Where: Victoria Harbour between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui
How much: Free!
Editor’s Note: Due to the tragedy on Saturday 10 February, the Hong Kong Government has cancelled the annual Chinese New Year Fireworks for 2018.
Read more: Top Spots to View Fireworks in Hong Kong
Festive Field Trips:
Taking a more traditional approach, visit one of the many temples to pray for health and prosperity in the upcoming year, whether it’s for you, your family or your friends. The HK locals usually pay respects to ancestors or pray for some good fortune in the year to come, bringing along some offerings of food and incense with them. However, temples aren’t just for holy visits, they’re actually architecturally beautiful, and the shrines are brightly decorated (also, the burning of incense makes for a good Insta snapshot). So go on a spiritual excursion in celebration of the New Year!
When: Throughout early and mid-February
Where: Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, 2, Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon; Tin Hau Temple, 10 Tin Hau Temple Road, Causeway Bay; click here to check out more.
How much: Free!
An ornate arrangement of colourful and fragrant plants and flowers, the jumbo-sized Flower Markets, situated in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park and Fa Hui Park in Sham Shui Po, are definitely worth visiting. A perfect outing for all to enjoy, you’ll feel festive in the midst of the New Year atmosphere. Transform your apartment into a CNY jungle with tangerine trees and lucky bamboo. Rather than decking your hall with boughs of holly, use cherry blossoms, orchids and daffodils instead. These busy markets also make for a great day out with the kids.
When: Open daily from 6am
Where: 15 parks and playgrounds all over Hong Kong including Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island and Fa Hui Park, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon.
How much: Free! But don’t forget to bring along your wallets to splurge on some exquisite flowers.
Read more: Sassy’s Guide to the Flower Market
Chinese New Year Race Day
Even if you’ve frequented the races many times, be sure to head over for an extra special outing in honour of the Year of the Dog – Chinese New Year Race Day at Sha Tin Racecourse. The day promises heaps of festive programmes including lion dances, CNY greetings from well-known jockeys and of course, a tipple or two!
When: Sunday, 18 February, 12:30pm to 6pm (gates open at 10:30am!)
Where: Sha Tin Racecourse, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: General admission is just $10; tourist badge is $130 to enter into members’ enclosure.
Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival
Paying a visit to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees is a popular tradition during the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, visitors write their wishes on a paper, tie them to a string with an orange and toss it over the tree. The ‘wish’ should successfully catch on one of the branches and remain hanging for their wishes to come true! Nowadays, to protect the integrity of the wishing trees, visitors are asked to make their wishes by tossing joss papers (ghost or spirit money) onto an imitation tree or hang them onto wishing boards. Whether you believe in the wishing trees’ power or not, this is a cute little activity to do during the holiday time with your friends or family.
When: From Friday, 16 February to Sunday, 4 March
Where: Lam Tsuen Wishing Square, Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: Free admission! But spare a few dollars to get joss papers.
Lunar New Year Lantern Carnivals and Youth Nights
A visit to Tsim Sha Tsui’s seaside piazza will surely get the whole family excited for CNY. Lit up with thematic lantern displays, the nicely embellished harbourfront space is a feast for the eyes. Enjoy classical Chinese performances at Carnival Nights, including a live concert, acrobatics show, and a lantern-making exhibition. Featuring both Chinese orchestra and European folk dance troupe, Youth Nights celebrate Hong Kong’s unique identity as a diverse international hub.
When: From Thursday, 1 March to Sunday, 4 March (Check out the full performance schedule here!)
Where: Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; Tung Chung North Park, 20 Tat Tung Road, Tung Chung, Hong Kong; Hong Kong Veladrome, 105-107 Po Hong Road, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong
How much: Free!
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort + Ocean Park
Lai see with large chocolate gold coins at the entrance – sounds like a great treat! Besides, we freakin’ love Disney – we’re all just big kids at heart. Guests at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will be immersed with ‘Endless Fortune’. Take photos with Mickey, Minnie and all their Disney friends (Instagram on point), decked out in colourful Chinese New Year attire, enjoy traditional Chinese delicacies available all throughout the park, buy thoughtful little gifts for your loved ones (and yourself) and watch the special CNY-themed parade. Heading Southside, Ocean Park always put on a good CNY bash, with dazzling decorations, and dedicated performances that will swing you into the Year of the Dog!
When: Throughout late January and early March
Where: Hong Kong Disneyland, Sunny Bay, Lantau, Hong Kong; Ocean Park, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
How much: Disneyland: Starting from $589, Ocean Park: Starting from $480
During the festive period, Lion and Dragon dances will be going on just about everywhere you turn! From shopping centres to restaurants, hotels and possible even in your office block, you’re bound to catch one at some stage over the holidays! You’ll definitely be able to catch one at the annual parade in TST on Friday, 16 February.
Day to Day:
Take full advantage of all that free time and embrace the great outdoors! Okay, CNY is notorious for rainy weather, and with recent cold spells, cosying up indoors is appealing – but the cooler climes do make for great hiking conditions! Check out these family-friendly hikes in Hong Kong that promise quiet forest treks, isolated beaches and stellar city views.
Read more: Hong Kong’s Best Family Camping Sites
Go on… you’re on holiday! Grab your friends and family and treat yourself to a decadent brunch – our top picks are those that come with free-flow. Whether you’re looking for family friendly brunch options, or parent-only free-flow dinner deals, we’ve got you covered. With heaps of delicious and affordable options to choose from, you won’t be left hungry.
Freshen up after that brunch (and inevitable, regrettable night out) with some al fresco picnic fun! Spending a lazy afternoon on the grass is sure to help you unwind after a long month back at work, but keep an eye on the forecast and keep your fingers crossed for sunshine. So whether you’re packing your own small bites, opting for hair of the dog (pun intended!) with a bottle of bubbles, or snapping up a pre-prepared basket (we love Invisible Kitchen’s spread), get back to nature, escape the hustle and bustle and wrap up warm!
During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget that there are those not so lucky to be celebrating. There are loads of ways to lend a hand and make a difference, but why not join the World Vision’s Spring Charity Barefoot Walk for Children in support of Sudanese children in conflict. Support your local community and The Community Chest with just a little love, warmth and smiles, and make an elderly’s day.
Chinese New Year Dining:
Looking for traditional Cantonese food in a casual setting? Set on the shore of Repulse Bay, Meen & Rice ticks all the boxes. This laidback spot is offering dishes designed for luck. Highlights include a whole suckling pig ($888, 2 days pre-order required) and Crispy fried oyster ($198). The specials are available from Wednesday 14 to Thursday 22 February. Ideal for relaxing with family and friends, and making the most of the (hopefully decent!) weather.
Meen & Rice, The Pulse, Shop 113, Level 1, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, www.meenandrice.com
Keen to enter the New Year feeling ZEN? This newly relaunched Cantonese restaurant is bringing three sets of Chinese New Year menus for family and friends to unite over. Available now until Friday, 2 March, the traditional style menus include only the finest dishes. Meant for extravagant group gatherings, the three 10-course set menus are priced at $5500, $6688 and $7788 for 10-12 people (meaning roughly $500 and up per head). Think lobster, sucking pig, king prawns and more…
ZEN, 2nd Floor Garden East, 222 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/zen1983
We’re huge fans of Bread & Beasts delicious sandwiches for a lunchtime treat, and we’re also loving the sound of its special CNY feasts. Staying true to its typical style, with fun interpretations of traditional Cantonese flavours, the menu includes the iconic Poon Choi, featuring mouth-watering options such as Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, Prawns with Thai Basil, Garlic and Chili, Souse Vide Pork Belly with Thyme and Garlic and much more. The Poon Choi will be the star of the show in set menus, Fortune Beast ($1,888, for six to eight people) and Prosperous Beast ($3,688, for 15 to 18 people), along with other delights such as Black and White Sesame Osmanthus Mochi. With a la carte options also available, including Lap Churng Potato Gratin ($188) and Hainan Chicken Sliders ($108 for four), we’re not sure if we’re more excited for the food, or the extra days off work!
Bread & Beast, 3 Swatow Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.breadandbeasthk.com
Ring in the Year of The Dog with a little pizazz! Sip a glass of champagne (included with the CNY menu at $888 per person) and listen to soul singer Wendy Robin as she performs at Fang Fang every Tuesday through Saturday, including during CNY. Enjoy the meal of rainbow Lo Hei with Norwegian Salmon, Dim Sum platter, Pork Ribs in a red wine dressing, and Chilean Sea bass with forest honey, pandan leaf prawns and truffle fried rice.
Fang Fang, 8/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.fangfang.com.hk
Meals with a View:
If you’re looking for seriously good views of the fireworks and some delicious Northern Chinese cuisine this CNY, you can’t go wrong with Hutong. Priced at $1,888 per person, sit back and enjoy the festivities, accompanied by the 12-dish feast, set in Hutong’s traditional interiors. Served for one night only on Saturday, 17 February, the dinner will include Braised Lobster with Spicy Broad Bean Sauce, along with Wok Tossed Angus Beef Tenderloin with Scallions, Shallots and Onion, accompanied by many other delights and finished off with Crispy Dumpling filled with Chocolate!
Hutong, 28/F, 1 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.hutong.com.hk
The special fireworks menu ($2,988 per person) at the two Michelin-star Yan Toh Heen is one that is sure to satisfy those who crave a decadent traditional Cantonese dinner! It features a Barbecued Suckling Pig and Golden Sun-dried Oyster followed by Double Boiled Sea Cucumber with Fish Maw. If that isn’t enough (how could it not be?) you’ll be treated to a Wok-fried Lobster with Water Chestnuts and Fungus, Braised Whole Abalone, followed by Steamed Garoupa Fillet and sides. Be sure to save some room, because dessert includes Sweetened Red Bean Cream with Glutinous Rice Dumplings and Chilled Red Date Pudding with Bird’s Nest served with 1970 Aged Supreme Liu Pao Tea. With a front row seat to the Victoria Harbour fireworks, the view will be the pièce de résistance!
And if Canto dinners aren’t your thing, be sure to check out the other restaurants – Rech by Alain Ducasse, Nobu and The Steakhouse Winebar + Grill all feature special CNY Menus to celebrate the occasion. Views included!
Yan Toh Heen, Lower Level, InterContinental, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com/en/dining/yan-toh-heen
This Cantonese restaurant is known by locals for a reason! It celebrates authentic Cantonese food, and showcases the natural flavours of top quality ingredients – all whilst showcasing our iconic Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop. Ideal for watching fireworks, the view overlooks the tree-lined Bauhinia Square and the harbour. To welcome in the New Year, Chef So, the Head Chef has specially designed the Spring Gourmet menu, and the day time dim sum is available as usual.
Golden Bauhinia, Expo Galleria, HKCEC, 1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong, www.restaurants.hkcec.com/en/GoldenBauhinia
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 4 February, 2016, and updated on 22 January, 2018, for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Feature image via Getty; image #1 courtesy of Michael Elleray via Flickr; image #2 courtesy of Pixabay; image #3 courtesy of Ian Glen via Flickr; image #4 courtesy of Hutong Hong Kong via Facebook; image #5 courtesy of Meen & Rice via Facebook; image #6 courtesy of InterContinental Hong Kong via Facebook.