An ancient tradition observed in many parts of Asia, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates a community’s successful harvest season. It is also known as the ‘moon festival’, as it takes place on the eighth full moon of the lunar calendar.
During this time, you’ll no doubt notice the shops are full of brightly coloured lanterns, which on the night of the festival are typically carried by children, when families go outside to observe the full moon.
In addition, families and friends exchange a traditional treat called mooncakes, a dense pastry with a salted egg yolk in the middle, representing the moon. Mooncakes can also have fillings of lotus paste or red bean paste. The cakes are extremely rich, and you aren’t expected to eat the entire thing; rather it should be cut into wedges and shared.
The grandest lantern carnival takes place on the evening of 13 September, at the expansive Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. With massive lantern displays, a cultural program with traditional dances and songs, lion and dragon dances, this is a great opportunity to see and experience the moon festival.
One of the highlights of the lantern carnival in Victoria Park is the incredible Tai Hang Fire Dragon. This is not your typical dragon dance—this 67-metre-long dragon is covered with thousands of burning sticks of incense, and more than 300 people are needed to make the massive beast dance through the streets. The procession starts in Tai Hang village, in Causeway Bay, and ends at Victoria Park, later in the night.
Another prime spot to enjoy lantern displays is over in Tsim Sha Tsui, in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. The open-air piazza by the Clock Tower is transformed into a glowing exhibition of elaborate lanterns,.
If you’re staying in Kowloon, here is our recommended itinerary for seeing all of the activities on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival:
1. Start with the lantern carnival in Tsim Sha Tsui, and admire the views of Victoria Harbour from the waterfront
2. Jump on the historic Star Ferry to get to Central
3. Walk to Des Voeux Road (about 10 minutes) and catch the Tram (ding ding!) going to Causeway Bay
4. Get off at Victoria Park, and follow the crowds to the action