How lucky are we Hong Kongers?? We get to ring in not one, but two new years, and benefit from all the revelry (and time off work!) that goes hand in hand with a big holiday. While many choose to stretch that vacation time by heading overseas, for those of us staying in the ‘Kong, there’s plenty to enjoy right here, and if you’ve got kids, all the better!
If you need some inspiration on filling the upcoming school holiday (we hear you!), then check out our fab guides to the best CNY Kids Camps and Classes, our Ideas and Inspiration page, and our 50 Things To Do With Kids in Hong Kong Before They Grow Up Guides, part one, and part two. Ticked off all 100? Then you should probably come and work at Sassy Mama! But in the meantime, we’ve put together a quick guide to what’s on around town this Chinese New Year.
Family Days Out
Your first stop should be the Chinese New Year festive markets, the biggest of the bunch situated in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, and Fa Hui Park in Prince Edward. Here, you can stock up on flowers, and the ubiquitous kumquat trees, a symbol of prosperity for the coming year. The markets make for a colourful night out and there’s a real festival atmosphere here that kids will love.
Naturally, Hong Kong’s theme parks will have plenty going on to ring in the Year of the Snake. Lantau’s very own 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 play host to Hong Kong’s largest spinning lantern, and there will be performances from an award-winning Taiwanese folk drum and art group throughout the holiday.
Carnivals and 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 and a variety of musical concerts running from now until February 16.
Make some noise at the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra’s Festive Drums for a Roaring New Year open-air concert, taking place at West Kowloon Cultural District on February 17. There’ll be competitions, arts and craft stalls and best of all – lots and lots of noise! What’s not to love?
The Confucius Carnival takes place in the pedestrian areas around Paterson Street in Causeway Bay on February 17, and offers stage shows, street performances, booths and lion dances.
There’ll be lantern carnivals taking place around Hong Kong throughout the festive period and they are well worth a visit with kids in tow as they’re likely to have been crafting their own at school in the run up to the holiday! Don’t forget, you can even get a dose of CNY spirit when you’re hitting the shops! All the malls will have themed displays that will give you an excuse to take a breather from your spree and some may even have special music or dance performances too – this year, we’re loving the gorgeous cherry blossom windmills at Pacific Place, the cuddly pandas at IFC, the Liberty-print dragons at Elements and the classy contemporary decoration at LANDMARK.
The Main Events
Tsim Sha Tsui’s annual Night Parade takes place on February 10, and is a real must-see, with hundreds of floats and thousands of performers from all corners of the globe gathering to celebrate the upcoming year of the snake. This gets seriously busy, so arrive early to claim your spot. Not feeling like standing all night? Book a grandstand seat, or watch from home – the entire event is broadcast on TVB Jade.
Of course, the real biggie is the superb firework display that takes place in Victoria Harbour each Lunar New Year. This year’s pyrotechnic fiesta kicks off at 8pm on February 11, and 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, or alternatively head to one of our tried-and-tested firework viewing spots and watch the celebrations go off with a bang.
Of course, up there on the list of things to do this Lunar New Year is gathering the family together to eat! Pretty much every restaurant in town will have something happening for CNY, so here’s just a selection of the places that are on the Sassy Mama menu for a festive feast with a view or two!
If you’ve got as sweet a tooth as we do, order from the Chinese New Year desert menu at Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons Hotel. You’ll need to hurry as desserts are only available to collect until February 9, but as the only Cantonese restaurant ever to be awarded three Michelin stars, you know it’s going to be worth it!
Want to make a real night of it? Petrus at the Island Shangri-La have a six-course dinner menu to pair with that spectacular firework view on February 11.
Sassy Award winner Sevva is a great location to impress any guests you might have over the holiday! It’s got the food, the drinks and best of all, the views. Book ahead.
The restaurant formerly known as Duetto is now Tamarind, and they’ll be holding a Dinner Buffet on February 11. We love the pan-Asian menu, but the real draw here is the gorgeous outdoor terrace for a birds-eye view of the pyrotechnics.
The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong’s two Michelin-starred Tin Lung Heen Cantonese restaurant has prepared a dedicated Year of the Snake menu to celebrate wealth, health and happiness, available from February 10 to 24. Want the view but not the feast? Head to OZONE, the highest bar in the world, to get a gander at the fireworks on 11 February 5-8.30pm through their huge floor-to-ceiling windows – admission includes a signature CNY cocktail.
Watching the show from Causeway Bay? Then the roof terrace at TOTTS in the Excelsior Hotel is a great option, although book early as there’s limited tables.
If you want to be right in the middle of all the action, then head to the Watermark at Central pier 7 for their CNY set dinner. There’s a celebratory set menu for both adults and kids, and the location really couldn’t be better.
Kowloon-side, there’s not one, but two great views on offer with your steak. Wooloomooloo Prime, at The One mall on Nathan Road is the swankier of the two, with an elevated view of the harbour on the 21st floor, whereas Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at TST East is slap bang on the waterfront. Take your pick!
New Territories mamas should check out Yue Cantonese restaurant at the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel. Ok, so you’re not getting a firework view, but the dim sum is award winning and the peaceful out-of-town spot is ideal for combining with a CNY staycation – and they’ve got a whole selection of seasonal delicacies to feast on, including lobster lo hei noodles and traditional steamed puddings. If that’s too much of a trek, find plenty more similar CNY yums at the Michelin-starred YUE restaurant in City Garden Hotel in North Point instead.
Get the best seats in the house with some delicious Chinese cuisine to match at Hutong – they’ve got an eight-dish banquet including chilli clams and ‘kung po’ fish with magnificent view of the fireworks included. Even better, the stunning traditional wishing tree in their foyer might just save you a trip to the one in Tai Po!
With Chinese New Year comes the opportunity to pick up some ‘only-in-HK’ gifts and knick-knacks. Ok, so we’re not recommending you trawl the tacky tourist shops along Nathan Road, but here’s a couple of cute little CNY-themed mementos we’re loving.
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to let you know about Vero’s chocolates, especially designed for the Year of the Snake. With Chinese zodiac art designs, and even itsy-bitsy chocolate oranges, beautifully boxed, these are a great gift. Chocolate definitely passes the family-friendly test, however we’re going to be palming the kids off with something far less decadent and saving these for ourselves!
Cupcake Designs are just as sweet but without the calories! Their bespoke Chinese zodiac print posters are just the gift for anyone expecting a little snake this year.
Since we’re talking life’s little luxuries, we couldn’t help but throw some wine into the mix too! Rather than emblazoning their bottles with cheesy snake cartoons, etc wine shops are keeping it classy by instead celebrating their vintage wines from other Years of the Snake gone by – like the rich and ripe Figeac 2001 or the super indulgent Latour 1953 (at a whopping $11,650!).
As for your wardrobe, check out Sassy’s Year of the Snake Style Guide for all of Sabrina’s top tips on working snake print into your wardrobe. Dresses, shoes and a bit of a bling too – she’s got it covered! Finally, make sure you’re feeling festive top to toe with some fun CNY DIY manis too.
MAC have come up with a gorgeous Year of the Snake make-up collection, featuring plenty of vibrant shades and shimmering finishes. The best bit? The beautiful foil-embossed snake packaging (we’re gonna have a hard time throwing the boxes away) and the chic serpentine design on the make-up itself – including a snake twisting up the sides of your lipstick! Very cool. See all MAC locations in Hong Kong here.
Kung Hei Fat Choi, mama!