19 Dec 2016
Revel in a Festive Wonderland
While not a traditional Chinese festival, cosmopolitan Hong Kong celebrates the Western world’s jolliest season unlike any other city in Asia.
It’s the time when the annual WinterFest, organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), is in full swing. Amid Central district’s sparkly jungle of skyscrapers, the 15-metre-tall Statue Square Christmas tree becomes the centrepiece of the festive decorations, radiating a glow from the heart of the city until 1 January 2017. Bring the children to see Santa or laugh at the antics of Eddie and the elves.
Twice each evening until 28 December, the all-new Pulse 3D Light Show thrills with its dazzling illuminations set to music and projected onto buildings. The best vantage point is the open piazza of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. Spectators can also listen to the music and English narration by downloading the Hong Kong Pulse free app.
View from Above
The Symphony of Lights show, which runs year-round on both sides of the Victoria Harbour waterfront, also takes on a Christmas theme. Visitors can sit along the pedestrian walk Avenue of Stars or ride the Star Ferry to enjoy the show.
The 60-metre high Hong Kong Observation Wheel also offers stunning harbour and city views from comfortable gondolas, and over the holidays, it transforms into a magical garden full of lights.
Shopping malls go all out to don the best Christmas decorations, a backdrop to the huge range of goods stocked by myriad brands at duty-free prices. The largest and most dazzling displays may be seen at such locations as the Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, ifc mall in Central, Elements Mall in West Kowloon and Langham Place, Mong Kok.
Another not-to-be-missed display is the Royal Ice Palace, a 13-metre gothic cathedral-like structure constructed at 1881 Heritage, the former Marine Police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui now rejuvenated into a luxury lifestyle precinct. See the exquisite ice sculptures and glamorous rotating sleigh before taking a photo at the “selfie corner” as a memento of an unforgettable Christmas.
Apart from shopping, Christmas is the ideal time to enjoy the city’s second-favourite pastime: dining. Hong Kong is known for having more restaurants per capita than any city in Asia. This includes about 63 Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as traditional dai pai dong street food, which can still be found among the city’s diverse culinary offerings. Many hotels serve special Christmas dinners in the days leading up to and including Christmas Day.
Hong Kong Disneyland gets into the festive spirit by transforming Main Street USA into a dazzling Christmas Town. With snow falling, carollers singing and ornaments hung from tress and storefronts, it feels like the full “white Christmas” experience. As night falls, the extravagantly-lit Christmas tree comes to life in a combination of seasonal lighting and music. Of course, Mickey and friends will be dressed in their jolly holiday attire.
World-class Magic Acts
The main event for the season at homegrown theme park Ocean Park is Cyber Illusion Spectacular, a spellbinding show for the family, featuring magic acts performed by internationally acclaimed illusionists.
It is also the season for culture. The Hong Kong Ballet company presents The Nutcracker, a Yuletide tradition enjoyed by audiences of all ages, at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Kowloon. This fairytale ballet, set to a joyous score by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky, invites young and old alike to rediscover the Christmas spirit.
From 23-24 December, the Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestra performs a selection of old and new carols in its seasonal special, A Magical Christmas with Harry Wong.
On the last day of December, a party atmosphere takes over the city for the New Year’s Eve countdown. Throngs of cheering revellers watch heart-pounding pyrotechnics light up the Hong Kong skies, exploding in a shower of lights to illuminate the harbour. Join in the fun and salute 2017 with all the glamour and spectacle of a truly Hong Kong-style celebration.
Dr Peter Lam, HKTB Chairman, said winter is one of the best times to visit Hong Kong, where the holiday season is a busy period for visitor arrivals and retail sales.
“While the glamorous lights and decorations transform the city into an even more charming destination than usual, the seasonal events and special offers at top attractions, shopping malls and dining districts all hold great allure for tourists."
According to Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data, shoppers spent HK$43.7 billion in Hong Kong stores last December, followed by another $43.6 billion in January 2016, while HKTB figures show more than 5.06 million tourists visited Hong Kong in December 2015, and another 5.2 million in January 2016.
“Leveraging Hong Kong WinterFest as a marketing platform allows the HKTB to promote the exciting array of winter events and happenings to more visitors, said Dr Lam. We have also collaborated with different trade partners to launch value packages in the Chinese mainland and various short-haul markets in the hope of drawing more young and family visitors to experience the winter festivities in Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong Tourism Board