Hong Kong Celebrations and Festivals
By Lindsay Varty
Hong Kong’s population is a cosmopolitan cocktail of nationalities and cultures and the city prides itself in respecting and celebrating all of these traditions. In other words, there’s always an excuse to party!
Here are two of the biggest events of the year:
Chinese New Year
This festival is the biggest event by far in the Chinese Lunar Calendar and usually falls around late January or early February. To welcome in the new lunar year, represented by an animal in the Chinese zodiac, Hong Kongers sweep away any ill-fortunes of the previous year, feast on roast pig and duck, collect ‘lai see’ (red packets full of money) and light fire crackers to scare away the mythical beast Nian. A self-proclaimed ‘World city. World Party’, the city puts on a dazzling show of floats, performers, dancers and singers, including the infamous Lion or Dragon Dance which features a huge, intricately designed Chinese dragon (animated by well-trained dancers underneath its body) who prowls the streets munching the lettuces that the locals hang above their doorways. Hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists alike swarm the Tsim Sha Tsui harbour-front promenade to join in the festivities and watch the impressive firework display which lights up the Hong Kong skyline at night. Hang around for the 15th and final day of celebrations, namely ‘Lantern Festival’ where the city is illuminated by millions of hand-crafted and extravagant lanterns.
Hong Kong IRB Rugby 7s
On the complete opposite end of the tradition spectrum, but with no less excitement and prestige is the awesome Hong Kong IRB Rugby 7s. For one weekend in late march, Hong Kong rugby lovers (and plenty of party-lovers too) congregate at the Hong Kong stadium in Causeway bay to dress up in outrageous costumes, drink outrageous amounts of beer and watch a fantastic display of world class rugby 7s from teams from all over the globe. Tear it up in the South Stand (where the alcohol flows like a waterfall) and join the singing and dancing lunatics all there to let their hair down and enjoy the rugby. The excitement and cheer and Mexican waves keep you smiling all weekend. The 7s is the biggest gathering of Hong Kong expats every year, and draws in thousands of rugby lovers from around the world.
So there you have it, a little taster of everything delicious about Hong Kong! The local papers and free magazines are bursting with teaching and tutoring positions in kindergartens and local schools and schools are usually willing to help with working visas.