Kung hei fat choi! San nin fai lok!

Whatever your choice of new year greeting, one thing’s for sure: Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year, is the biggest, most important event in Hong Kong’s calendar. Not only that, but it’s also an amazing time to be in town.

The basics

Lunar New Year 2024

Photo by Getty Images

While 2023 marked the Year of the Rat, 2024 marks the Year of the Dragon. So, if you were born in 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, then your Chinese zodiac sign is Dragon, and 2024 promises to be a lucky year for you.

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To get more specific, every Chinese zodiac is also shaped by one of five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. 2024 is associated with the Wood Dragon.

The official festival dates are 10–14 February, which are also public holidays in the territory.

Lunar New Year in Hong Kong

In the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year you’ll notice preparations taking place, with shops, malls, businesses and homes getting ready for the big day. Decorating your home with fresh flowers and fruit is considered auspicious, so lively flower markets are in full bloom and well worth visiting.

Red is the luckiest colour, and you’ll see it everywhere, from the small lai see money envelopes to the lovely lanterns hung all over town. Shops will be chock-a-block with decorations, including banners to hang on your door, and other symbols for good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

In addition, the major attractions in Hong Kong—from the Big Buddha to Hong Kong Disneyland to Ocean Park—will all have their own special Chinese New Year events going on, meaning that everywhere you go, you’ll get that feeling of excitement in the air.

Major Lunar New Year events

There are three major annual events that should not be missed during this momentous holiday:

  • Chinese New Year Fireworks

    hong kong chinese new year
    The view from Tsim Sha Tsui, looking towards Central | Photo by iStock.com/YiuCheung

    Victoria Harbour traffic comes to a standstill as one of the largest fireworks displays in the world takes place. Large ships park in the middle of Victoria Harbour to release the fireworks, so that people on both sides of the harbour can see the show.

    For a full guide on where and how to best enjoy the fireworks, check out our comprehensive guide to Chinese New Year Fireworks.

  • Cathay International Chinese New Year Night Parade & Float Display 2024

    Access via Tsim Sha Tsui MTR

    night parade tsim sha tsui
    Photo by Hong Kong Tourism Board

    This year will see the return of the Cathay International Chinese New Year Night Parade & Float Display 2024, which traditionally has featured the incredible night parade in Tsim Sha Tsui.

    The streets of Tsim Sha Tsui will explode into a sea of colour, with floats, elaborate costumes, lion and dragon dances, drummers, acrobats, and performers from all around the world putting on a fantastic spectacle. Stay tuned for further details as they become available.

  • Flower markets

    Access via Tai Hang MTR, or take the tram to Victoria Park

    hong kong chinese new year
    Victoria Park’s popular Flower Market | Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

    The flower markets, which open up especially for Chinese New Year, bring some beautiful colours into Hong Kongers’ homes and businesses. You’ll notice lots of auspicious plants on sale, especially the bright orange mandarins and tangerines, pomelos, delicate orchids and peach blossoms, lucky bamboo, and Chinese peonies.

    The flower markets open about a week before the official holiday, with the biggest one being held in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. The park will also be full of stalls selling special treats and snacks for the new year.

    To learn more, read our guide to Chinese New Year Flower Markets.

  • What to see and do

  • Trek up to the Big Buddha (or take the cable car)

    Big Buddha statue in Phuket, Thailand. | Photo by Jitti Narksompong/iStock via Getty images

    Hongkongers love to hike, period. On the first day of Chinese New Year, many hike up to the Big Buddha, in line with the belief that climbing uphill can heighten your fortunes.

    If you want the gain without the pain (no judgement), opt for the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, on a scenic 25-minute ride across the sea, and high above the lush mountains of Lantau Island. Beat the crowds and make sure to book your tickets online.

    Cheapo Tip: The Lantau Island Discovery Tour that includes the cable car, Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery can be booked online.

  • Attend the Lam Tsuen Well-Wishing Festival

    Whether for a wholesome, nature-oriented daytrip or an escape from the hustle and bustle of the CBD, we highly recommend spending some time in the New Territories if you can.

    Deep in the NT is the village of Lam Tsuen, a settlement dating back over seven centuries. Here, people take part in the age-old tradition of writing their wishes for the year on a card, attaching it to an orange and throwing it up the Wishing Tree. Locals believe that the higher your card manages to hang from the tree, the more likely it is that your wishes will come true.

    For all the details, check out our comprehensive guide to the Lam Tsuen Well-Wishing Festival.

  • Witness the Spring Lantern Festival

    hong kong chinese new year
    Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

    The Spring Lantern Festival is also an important part of Chinese New Year, as it marks the first full moon, and the end of the official festivities.

    A great place to see the lanterns is the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza, which is open to the public, with not only lanterns but live performances, music, and cultural activities. Victoria Park also holds a huge Lantern Festival, with different themes and decorations every year, and lots of fun entertainment.

  • Experience Chinese New Year Race Day

    After the fireworks, the crowds head north to the Sha Tin Racecourse to try their luck at the special Chinese New Year horse races, usually held on the third day of the Lunar New Year festivities (12 February, 2024).

    With lots of festivities, performances and entertainment, such as live music and lion dances, this annual race day has a great holiday atmosphere— it’s just an added bonus if you actually win! It costs HK$10.00 for general admission, and the gates open at 11 am.

  • Visit a temple

    Pinwheels at Che Kung Temple, Hong Kong. | Photo by via Getty Images

    Two temples in particular are full to the brim during Chinese New Year: Wong Tai Sin and Che Kung.

    Wong Tai Sin Temple

    Access via Wong Tai Sin MTR

    HK CNY
    Photo by iStock.com/LeeYiuTung

    Worshippers flock to Wong Tai Sin Temple to offer the first incense. The first incense offering is believed to protect from disasters. This is a huge event, so expect massive crowds.

    Che Kung Temple

    Access via Tai Wai MTR

    Che Kung is a legendary figure in Hong Kong. Villagers believed that this general warded off epidemics wherever he went. So, a temple was built to worship him.

    Che Kung’s birthday falls on the second day of the Lunar New Year, so many worshippers visit the temple to turn a special fan-bladed wheel to pray for health and prosperity. You’ll see many people carrying colourful pinwheels complete with golden bells: purchase your own to take home and let the luck flow.

    Cheapo Tip: Do the stars predict an unlucky year ahead for you? Fortunately, there are several temples around town where you can go to change your luck.

  • Enjoy a staycation

  • Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is offering a special Lunar New Year package: 15% off the regular room rate, an accommodation upgrade, daily breakfast for two, and four tickets to the AIA Carnival with 10 tokens per ticket for rides, games, food and drinks. Valid for stays until 14 February, 2024. Book here.
  • Things to note

    Above all, Chinese New Year is a time for families to get together, take a break from work, eat special meals and reconnect.

    Keep in mind that many restaurants will be closed or have modified hours during this time. It’s a good idea to call ahead and check to avoid disappointment.

    As a traveller, enjoy the great atmosphere, buy some special souvenirs, peruse the flower markets, and light some incense for a happy and healthy Year of the Dragon.

    Bonus: What makes Hong Kong an excellent Christmas break destination? Check out our guide.

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