If you’re taking your kids to the stadium this year, here’s what you need to know!
The Hong Kong Sevens is one of the sporting highlights of the year. It’s when the world of rugby comes to play in our backyard and has become a rite of passage for most discerning HK-ers! The Sevens is as crazy, fun and “epic” as you’ve heard…but it’s also a great experience for kids. You just need to know how to navigate it. So, whether you’ve done the whole South Stand thing in your pre-kids life, or are totally new to the whole experience, here’s how to have the best time with the whole family.
Things to know
When and where: This year’s Sevens runs from Friday, 5 April to Sunday, 7 April at Hong Kong Stadium, which is at 55 Eastern Hospital Road, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay. Friday is normally the quietest day, so it’s the best time for family visits. The day kicks off at 7:30am with the mini-rugby festival (where lots of kids play a tournament on the big pitches, which is a great spectator sport for other children). Then there’s the opening ceremony – a fantastically loud and colourful parade – complete with marching band, lions and dragons!
Getting there: The easiest way to get to Hong Kong Stadium is to take public transport to Causeway Bay via the MTR (exit F), or by bus. If you are taking a taxi, ask the driver to take you to “Dai Kau Cheung, Tung Lo Wan”, though be prepared to sit in traffic as you approach the final stretch towards the stadium.
Tickets and seating: The official ballot is long done and dusted, but don’t panic! You can try to buy tickets from Viagogo (the Hong Kong Rugby Football Association’s authorised platform for people buying and selling unwanted tickets), or if you’re willing to push the boat out, some hospitality packages are still available through the main Hong Kong Sevens website. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the various HK Facebook groups. Every year there are tickets going spare in the days leading up to the event, as people’s plans do change.
The best seats in the house for families are basically anywhere OTHER than the infamous South Stand (where the partying is intense and you have to be 18+ to enter). Earlier on Friday, good seats can be found near the field in the East and West stands. There are great views and you are right next to the food and drink stands. Later that day, or on Saturday and Sunday as things get busier, you might want to head to the seats higher up in the East and West Stands. The North Stand is always a little busier, as lots of the players choose to watch from there (but that also means the kids have more chance of a meet and greet!).
What to wear
- Fundamentally dress for comfort (and be prepared for every eventuality). Pack your sunscreen, insect repellent and waterproofs, as well as sunnies and hats. Don’t wear long clothing that sweeps the floor, or open-toed shoes (just don’t…you’ll thank us later).
- Fancy dress is a BIG part of an authentic Sevens experience. You don’t have to go as far as those in the South Stand (where last year’s costumes included a group dressed as orange safety cones amongst other crazy get-ups), but it is one of the things that adds to the fun of the day. So hit up Pottinger Street, or scour Taobao for last minute costumes or accessories for yourself and the kids.
- Otherwise, lots of people opt to dress in support of their home (or adopted) country team, or in merchandise they’ve purchased from sellers in the stadium. There are many face-painters around the North, East and West stands to help complete your look!
What to take
- Water bottles (hard plastic) aren’t allowed, so consider investing in a drinking pouch (like this one from Decathlon).
- Food and drinks are available for purchase inside the stadium, but we’d suggest taking in some food and snacks (because even kids tire of junk food after a while), as well as some hand sanitiser and wipes and tissues (again, just trust us!).
- Don’t forget to bring cash as there are no ATMs inside the stadium, and keep your ID and tickets close to hand as these are checked sporadically.
What to leave behind
Alongside glass, plastic and cans, other forbidden items include obvious things like alcohol or dangerous items (knives, fireworks, party poppers and remote-controlled drones) as well as umbrellas and selfie sticks. But also rugby balls, loud hailers and vuvuzelas, and anything “simulating the uniform of the discipline services” are banned. So leave that police costume at home…
Check out the full list of prohibited items here.
Other family-friendly activities
- If you didn’t score tickets and don’t fancy paying over the odds for one now, then fear not. The Sevens Village, located right across the road from the stadium (at the IRC, 643 Caroline Hill Road), is free to both ticket and non-ticket holders alike throughout the duration of the tournament. Expect beer for the adults, soft drinks for the kids, but more importantly, it’s right near the action and has a big screen broadcasting all the live action from the pitch.
- Fancy some space to chill out between games? Consider buying a party package at The Rugby Club, starting from $950 (including stadium tickets). Adults can enjoy the free-flow bar and unlimited BBQ, while the HSBC Kids Zone next door promises face painting, jugglers, balloon twisters, stilt walkers and interactive games.
- The party keeps on going even away from the Stadium. Kicking off the festivities on Friday, 5 April is none other than three-time Grammy award-winning pop icon Gwen Stefani. She will play on Friday, 5 April at the Central Harbourfront. It will be a crowd-pleasing, tween-appropriate show, and you can still get tickets here.
- The Central Harbourfront event space will then be transformed into Sevens Central on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7. There will be a fan zone featuring live music, tribute acts performing as Pink, Queen, Oasis and the Rolling Stones, plus a host of international street entertainers. All the rugby action will be live on the big screens and there’s all-day happy hour drinks. Best of all – it’s free entry for all.
- The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Festival Fanwalk will return to Lee Gardens in Causeway Bay from Thursday, 4 April, to Sunday, 7 April. There will be street performers, family games and this year there’s also a state-of-the-art ninja course for your little ones to try out.
- If the kids are done, but you still have the energy to party, why not book the babysitter and then head to the official Hong Kong Sevens After Party on Friday evening in Lan Kwai Fong. Expect a rugby party like no other – non-stop music, rugby-themed interactive games, an instant photo service and lots and lots of food and drink!
- Just like the rugby, the fun keeps rolling all weekend, so check out the Hong Kong Sevens official page for a full list of events and steel yourself for a weekend to remember.
Top tips for parents
- If you are taking young children, Friday morning or early afternoon is the best time to go. Normally things start heating up in the late afternoon when people get out of work, but this year it’s a public holiday, so be warned Mama’s…the earlier you get there, the better.
- Seats higher up in the East and West stands are more family orientated, even on Saturday and Sunday, so they are good for older children who really want to follow all the matches. There can still be some drunken behaviour to deal with, but parents can use it as a good “teaching opportunity” about how to drink responsibly!
- For a chance to see some of the star players (if the kids are autograph hunting), try hanging around the North Stand. A lot of the players can usually be found in the area between the North and West Stands.
- The World Rugby Women’s Seven Series qualifiers are being held on Thursday, 4 April, which is perfect for anyone with a future Portia Woodman on their hands. The matches will be held at So Kon Po Recreation Ground from 10am to 5:20pm and it’s free entry!
- If you want to start the fun early, take the kids along to the rugby-themed EGGsentially Art festival which runs from Saturday, 30 March, to Tuesday, 2 April, outside Lee Gardens One in Causeway Bay. There will be international team visits as well as a locally-focused egglette and milk tea festival.
The Hong Kong Sevens is an incredible weekend with family and friends, but with thousands of people attending and a party like atmosphere, there could be a temptation for teens and youths when it comes to alcohol (with some parents possibly overindulging as well!). So it’s reassuring to know KELY Support Group is on hand with their SOSKELY outreach initiative to help with drug and alcohol-related incidents, providing support, education and treatment to teens and youths that are in need during the Sevens.