Chinese New Year
Hong Kong’s most celebrated festival is a riot of neon and noise. Skyscrapers on both sides of the harbour are lit up to varying deg-rees depending on the vicissitudes of the economy, fireworks explode over the harbour, shops shut down and doormen suddenly turn nice, hoping for a handout of lai see (lucky money).
Spring Lantern (Yuen Siu) FestivalAlso known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, this festival marks the end of the traditional Lunar New Year celebrations.
Tin Hau Festival
This is the big one if you make your living from the sea. Fishermen make floral paper offerings to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea, hoping for fine wea-ther and full nets. (Her views on overfishing and dragnetting aren’t clear.) Try the temples at Stanley, Joss House Bay or Tin Hau Temple Road.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Talk about a bunfight. Young men used to scale 8-m (26-ft) towers covered in buns until in the 1970s they started falling off and the practice was banned. It was revived in a tamer form in2005.
Also known as the grave-sweeping festival, ching ming literally means “clear and bright”. Chinese families visit the graves of their ancestors to burn “Hell money”, which resembles Monop-oly money.
Dragon Boat (Tuen Ng) Festival
Drums thunder and paddles churn the less-than-pristine waters of Hong Kong as garish craft vie for top honours. The festival commemorates Qu Yuan, a 3th century poet statesman who drowned himself to protest against corrupt rulers.
Hungry Ghost (Yue Laan) Festival
From the 14th day of the seventh moon, Chinese believe the gates of hell are thrown open and the undead run riot on earth for a month. Lots more “Hell money” goes up in smoke, as do various hillsides. Not a good time for hiking.
One of the most picturesque of Hong Kong’s festivals. Families brave the most appalling traffic jams to venture out into the country parks to burn candles and feast on yolk-centred moon-cakes. Unfortunately, the intricate paper lanterns have increasingly been supplanted by glowing, blow-up Hello Kitty, Doraemon and Pokémon dolls.
Chung Yeung Festival
Put on your hiking boots. This festival commemorates a Han Dynasty scholar who took his family up a hill and came back to find the rest of his village murdered.
Not a traditional Chinese festival, of course, but Hong Kongers have wholeheartedly embraced the more commercial aspects of Christmas.