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The Mid-Autumn Festival In Hong Kong: Celebrate Its Traditions And Culture

whats on mid-autumn festival hong kong
What's OnPost Category - What's OnWhat's On - Post Category - Things to Do With Kids in Hong KongThings to Do With Kids in Hong Kong

Gather the family to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival!

Whether you’re a born-and-raised Hong Kong kid or a newbie to this bustling city, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a great holiday to celebrate with the family! We’ve got the lowdown on the history, the festivities, and the food you can enjoy with the whole gang. Here’s our 2019 Mid-Autumn Festival Guide for families in Hong Kong.

Read more: Mooncakes And Hampers To Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival

whats on mid autumn festival lantern parade

The History of the Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most colourful and quaint events in Hong Kong. It lights up the city with bright lanterns, light shows and fiery dragon dances.

Usually celebrated as a harvest festival, this long-held tradition dates back to the Tang dynasty (from around 600AD). The occasion had a dual function, as it also meant that many family members working away from home had a chance to return to their extended family for the holiday. At the time, people would gather to make offerings of food and drink to the moon goddess, Chang’e, paying their respects and giving thanks for the crops harvested during the year. Legend has it that Chang’e blesses her worshippers with beauty, so people lit lanterns in her honour (and to make sure that she can see them clearly from the sky).

The Mid-Autumn Festival is all about light, so a household really wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous lantern to guide the way. Historically, the lanterns were made from paper and lit with candles but nowadays they tend to be plastic, battery operated (safety first right, mamas? And they’re reusable!) and come in every shape and cartoon character you can think of. Be warned – some come with electronic tunes that play non-stop!

This holiday is a time to be grateful for what you have, your relationships and your fortunes. It’s a refreshing, feel-good holiday, our favourite type.

Family-Friendly Activities

Throughout Hong Kong, you’ll find lanterns strung about ready to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. As you may or may not know, Hong Kong is never one to shy away from celebrating local customs on a grand scale. There are several ways you can bring your family out to join in the revelry, so here are a few places to check out.

Free Events For Kids: Tai Hang Fire Dance

Fire Dragon Dance
Touted as one of the most important events to experience over the holiday, this dance is definitely one to cross off your checklist. The Fire Dragon Dance can be watched all over the city, but the one that draws the large crowds for its liveliness, origin and reputation is found in the heart of Tai Hang village.

This traditional dance dates back to the 19th century when the Tai Hang villagers were dealing with catastrophe after catastrophe. From a raging typhoon to an awful plague, followed by an alleged python eating their livestock, the Tai Hang villagers simply couldn’t get a break. To get out of this bout of bad luck, a soothsayer said they needed to perform a fire dance for three days and three nights during the Mid-Autumn Festival. So the villagers created a large dragon made out of straw and then covered it with incense to ward off evil spirits. Along with loud firecrackers and drummers, the villagers danced for three days and, truth be told, the plague ceased.

To this day, you can catch this fiery and smoky performance every year in the back streets of Tai Hang village. We’re talking about 300 performers, 7,000 incense sticks and a 67 metre-long dragon that will leave you in a wide-eyed trance! If your little one isn’t a fan of loud noises (and the smoke!), we recommend standing further away from Wun Sha Street. You can still see the wonderful spectacle but at a safe distance.

There is also a popular dance in Pok Fu Lam if that is closer to your neck of the woods.

Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance
When: Thursday, 12 to Saturday, 14 September
Time: 8:15pm to 10:30pm
Tai Hang, Causeway Bay along Lily Street, Ormsby Street to Tung Lo Wan Road (you get a fab view from Wun Sha Street!)
How much: 
Free entry – for maps and further details see the Tai Hang Fire Dragon website

Pok Fu Lam Fire Dragon Dance
When: Friday, 13 September
Time: 6:30pm to 11:45pm
Entrance to Pok Fu Lam Village, route follows Wah Fu Road to Waterfall Bay 
How much: 
Free entry

Read more: Ching Ming Festival: All You Need To Know About “Grave Sweeping” Day

Free Events For Kids: Urban Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnival

Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnival
If you’ve never walked through a Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnival in your life, you’re in for a real treat! The 852 pulls out all the stops when it comes to the intricately-decorated and beautifully-designed lanterns that are on display across various neighbourhoods all over the city. Besides the brightly lit lanterns, there are usually game stalls, palm reading and even traditional stage shows. This is truly the quintessential family activity to do over the holiday. Don’t forget your cameras and better yet, buy your kids their own lanterns at the stalls (which come in all shapes and sizes including their favourite Disney character!) to add to the fun.

The largest and most popular carnival is found in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay but there are lantern carnivals spread throughout Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Island
Main Carnival – Friday, 13 September; Youth Night – Thursday, 12 September
Time: Main Carnival – Approx. 8pm to 11pm; Youth Night – 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Where: Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
How much: Free entry

New Territories
East Mid–Autumn Lantern Carnival
Carnival Night – Sunday, 15 September; Youth Night – Saturday, 14 September
Time: Carnival Night – 7:30pm to 10pm, Youth Night – 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Where: Sha Tin Park, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: Free entry

West Mid–Autumn Lantern Carnival
When: Carnival Night – Sunday, 15 September; Youth Night – Saturday, 14 September
Time: Carnival Night – 7:30pm to 10pm; Youth Night – 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Where: Tsuen Wan Park, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong
How much: Free entry

whats on mid autumn festival Hong Kong lanterns

Mid-Autumn Lantern Displays

Be prepared for a thematic grand display of lanterns that will make your September a magical one with the littlest members of your family. From dragon dance fiestas, glorious lantern and LED displays, to giant-sized rabbits, trust us, your kids won’t be the only ones ooh-ing and ahh-ing!

Lee Tung Avenue
This happening street has loads of family-friendly activities going on during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This year Lee Tung Avenue is celebrating its “Blooming Floral Lanterns” by hanging up traditional Chinese lanterns decorated with colourful peony, lotus and orchid patterns. The display is up now and will be there until mid-October.

Hong Kong Culture Centre: “Magic Behind the Moon” Lantern Display
Each year, the Hong Kong Culture Centre puts on an interactive themed lantern display during the Mid-Autumn Festival. These displays make walking along the promenade and viewing Victoria Harbour even more beautiful while the amazing displays make great photo-ops for a “lit” family photo.

When: Friday, 30 August to Sunday, 15 September
Time: 6:30pm to 11pm (extended to midnight on 13 September)
Where: Hong Kong Culture Centre Piazza, 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
How much: Free entry

whats on mid autumn festival Hong Kong 2019 mooncake

The Lowdown on the Mooncake

You either love ’em or could do without ’em, but the entire Mid-Autumn Festival revolves around having a sliver (or a quarter!) of this seasonal treat. Celebrated as a thanksgiving for the harvest, the main symbol of this season is the full moon represented in a mooncake.

It is said that in the Yuan dynasty, mooncakes were used as a means to pass secret messages between revolutionaries. Well, many centuries later, the mooncake has evolved into an assortment of different tastes. Typically shared between the entire family after a special dinner gathering, the cakes are traditionally filled with a smooth but dense lotus seed paste encasing an entire egg yolk at the centre.

An acquired taste for some, but once appreciated, you’ll be wondering what you ever did without one! Not to fret, if you’re not a fan of the traditional mooncake as there are many different variations to suit the changing palates of Hong Kongers.

Read more: Mooncakes And Hampers To Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 11, September 2018 and updated by Jess Mizzi on 11, September 2019.

Featured image courtesy of Discover Hong Kong via Facebook, image courtesy of Jason Goh from Pixabay, image  courtesy of Discover Hong Kong via Facebook, image courtesy of Sassy Media Group, image courtesy of Sassy Media Group, image courtesy of Huong Ho on Unsplash.


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