It’s bigger than Easter. It’s bigger than Halloween. It’s bigger than even Christmas. Lunar New Year reigns supreme in Hong Kong’s calendar of holidays, and if you want to make the most out of this unique experience, visit a week before the actual New Year for the markets and fairs that spring up across the city for this occasion.
Chun Yeung Street Market
Chun Yeung Street market is located in North Point, a major residential neighbourhood on the island side. It functions as a daily wet market where locals pick up fresh meat, produce, noodles and exchange recipes and gossip. While it isn’t a Lunar New Year specialty market, locals shop for food, flowers and New Year’s decorations here, so you will find all sorts of colourful and festive food and decorations you can’t find anywhere else. North Point also has a dominant Hokkien-background population, which means you will find new year specialty foods unique to the Hokkien.
The best way to see this market is to hop on a tram – the oldest land transport in Hong Kong – with North Point as its final stop, because tracks to the North Point terminal run through the market.
For New Year preparations, the usually busy Chun Yeung Street stalls will be practically heaving. Hawkers and sellers have their wares overflowing outside in carts, stacks of boxes. And when the tram passes through, it literally is like parting the Red Sea. It is a unique experience to be on the top deck as it moves slowly as you hawkers drag their boxes to the side for your tram to pass, only to push them back out right behind the vehicle.
Chun Yeung Street Market
Kam Wa Street Wet Market
Located on the Eastern end of Hong Kong Island, Kam Wa Street is another great wet market serving its local community. For Lunar New Year, the market overflows into the sidewalks. Here you can find Chinese candies, fried food and traditional pastries, sweet and savoury puddings only found during this special holiday here. Also keep an eye out for fruits unique to this part of the world – Lunar New Year, also known as the “Spring Festival” is historically known for being a time where fruits are in abundance.
The market is also close to part of the famous Dragon’s Back trail, so we’re recommending taking a hike to Big Wave Bay, then hop on the minibus which will take you to the doorstep of Kam Wa Street in Shau Kei Wan, where you can enjoy the pastries, fish balls and fruit and soak in the festive atmosphere.
Kam Wa Street Wet Market
Chinese New Year specialty fairs
There are over a dozen new year markets or fairs that pop up across the island, Kowloon and the New Territories the week before Lunar New Year, varying in size and number of stalls. The government auctions off stalls to the public each year in the autumn, and plant nurseries, small businesses and food vendors vie for a stall to tout their wares at what might be the busiest time of the year. The fairs usually contain a majority of stalls selling seasonal and festival flowers, such as the aromatic cherry blossom trees (they act like Christmas trees for Christmas, with delicate pink blossoms), kumquat shrubs (which you can peel and eat the fruit at the end of the holidays), lilies-of-the-valley, and Chinese daffodils. But markets have evolved to include stalls with specialty delicacies, sweets and snacks only found during this time of the year; stalls selling decorations you might need to deck out your home for the holidays; and also stalls selling novelty items and gifts with all manner of quirky things imaginable. If you’re planning a trip to the city, it’s worth coinciding with the week before the New Year – which is when these markets operate. Just a reminder – markets close on the first day of the new year, so come before then to enjoy the festive atmosphere!
Note: All New Year fairs have been cancelled since the start of the pandemic, so 2023 will be the first year that they’re back, much to the excitement of the locals in Hong Kong. However, they will be pared back, with the government limiting the types of merchants allowed to take up stalls. Before going, it is worth checking out the latest government announcements in order to avoid disappointment.
We’re listing a few fairs here for you to check out:
Victoria Park market
The biggest of them all, the Victoria Park Lunar New Year fair, is the king of LNY fairs. Four full-sized football pitches in the middle of Hong Kong’s biggest urban park are transformed into a mega fair with close to 180 stalls.
Fa Hui Park market
The biggest flower market in Kowloon with 70 stalls, the Fa Hui Park market connects with the year-round Mong Kok Flower street market. There are also the Bird Market, Goldfish Market, and street markets nearby. The closest MTR station is Prince Edward Station, though you can choose to get off at Mongkok Station, and slowly stroll through the street markets as you make your way north to the flower market.
Fa Hui Park
Sha Tsui Road Playground fair
Located in the industrial-turned-residential neighbourhood of Tsuen Wan, the Sha Tsui Road Playground fair has 96 stalls, selling fresh and festival flowers for the season. Pop by The Mills, a revitalised cotton mill owned by the Nan Fung Group to learn more about the neighbourhood – and Hong Kong’s history as an industrial textiles hub.
Sha Tsui Road Playground
Tung Tau Industrial Area Playground
If you’d like to pair up the flower market visit with some nature, visit the Tung Tau Industrial Area Playground flower market in Yuen Long, in the New Territories. Yuen Long is also home to the ecologically important wetland Nam Sang Wai, a popular bird-watching and cycling spot.