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New Year Parade in Hong Kong
One of the
best places in the world to celebrate Chinese New Year has to be the island of
Hong Kong. Dragon dancers are the star attraction, as the annual Chinese New
Year Parade hits Wan Chai Harborfront with a cavalcade of colorful floats,
accompanied by performers from all over the world.
floats, performers, street entertainers, music and dance take over the
picturesque harborfront, spilling out into the streets throughout the city.
Fireworks over Victoria Harbor mark the end of the parade.
also amazing flower displays all over the city, with other parades and markets
taking place in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island and Fahui Park in Mong Kok on
Lantern Festival (Yuen Siu)
of Hong Kong believe that during Full Moon in February (the first of the Chinese
New Year) various spirits swoop above the ground. To avoid being snatched by the
ghosts, hundreds of locals take to the streets with lanterns, representing
everything from dragons to Michael Jackson.
believe that the lanterns help guide the spirits back to the world of the dead
safely, while a separate tradition tells of the Jade Emperor (the Emperor of
Heaven), who wanted to exact revenge on a man who had killed his precious goose.
The Emperor planned to torch the man's property but a good spirit warned the
man, telling him to hang lanterns out at the first full moon of the year: the
Emperor thought the place was already on fire and left it alone.
these traditions celebrate good fortune, and the self-made lanterns often come
with riddles attached.
Kong Arts Festival
Kong Arts Festival - first held in 1973 - is the premier arts event of the year,
featuring dance, visual art, theatre and music. Each spring a wealth of
international artists, as well as the best Asian and local performers, makes
this one of the most vibrant and exciting festivals in the world.
for 2006 include a nod in the direction of Mozart's 250th birthday. IvÃ¡n Fischer
brings the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for two mostly Mozart concerts
(3 & 4 March), while
International Sevens was born in 1975 as a result of an idea of the
then-chairman of the HKRFU and an imaginative marketing executive - with the
first game actually taking place on 28 March 1976. Initially the
Twickenham-based RFU were dismissive of the tournament, so it began life as a
club competition, but was soon legitimized as a national tour and has grown in
stature ever since. Hong Kong's glamorous surroundings only add to the
excitement of the event.
Tomb Sweeping Day, every year in April, is a day for worshipping ancestors;
people visit the graves of their departed relatives and burn "ghost money"
(money for use in the afterworld) in their honor.
called Qingming Day, this tradition is observed by millions of Chinese all
across the world. It has its roots partly in the half-legendary huge
resettlements that were ordered during the Ming Dynasty, when thousands of
families were ordered first to Konglong county before being sent to their final
this day, many Chinese believe their ancestors came from that county. The event
also appeals to many overseas Chinese who identify their own diaspora with that
of the people who suffered under the Ming rulers.
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Clear and Bright Festival (Ching Ming)
ancient Chinese festival takes place 106 days after the Winter Solstice in the
cemeteries of Hong Kong, where families pay respect to their ancestors with
One of the
most important parts of Chinese culture (and one which has been all but
forgotten in Western society) is the veneration and honoring of the dead. To
honor your dead you must provide a long line of family, hence the importance of
the family in Chinese culture. Among the offerings, "spirit money" (paper money)
is often burnt, and it is said that during Ching Ming some true devotees
actually scrub the bones of their loved ones.
Kong International Film Festival
Kong International Film Festival is a large, non-competitive event playing over
the Easter holidays at a number of venues. With over 200 films every year, the
program is large enough to accommodate a focus on Hong Kong cinema as well as
the usual international festival-circuit fare. It also includes retrospectives,
an award for upcoming Asian directors and a number of themed exhibitions, gala
presentations and other events. In 2006 there are special celebrations for the
festival was founded in 1977 by the Hong Kong Urban Council and responsibility
passed to the newly-formed Leisure and Cultural Services Department in 2000. As
well as showcasing the astonishingly creative and energetic local cinema
industry, the retrospective section brings out an annual themed program of
treasures from the archives. The festival is non-competitive and is split into
four main sections; Asian Cinema, Hong Kong Panorama, World Cinema and the
mainstay of the festival consists of local and international premiÃ¨res, adhering
to the trademark combination of Asian Vision and Global Vision as the twin
strands. For the 30th festival, to encourage filmmaking at university, there is
the Fresh Wave Joint-U Short Film Competition which, following workshops at the
end of 2005, will see student films shown at the festival.
Tin Hau is
the Chinese goddess of the sea, making her particularly significant to the
sea-dominated city of Hong Kong. The fishing town of Sai Kung is at the heart of
the celebrations for the goddess' birthday, although the festivities reverberate
around the towns and villages of Hong Kong.
traditional rites are observed at community temples, but more eye-catching are
the colorful parades of floats, fireworks and lion dances and the sailing of
hundreds of multicolored junks and sampans in Victoria Bay and beyond. Tin Hau's
birthday is celebrated to bring safety, fine weather and full nets to the
fishermen, who adorn their boats with colorful ribbons, offerings and other
symbols of devotion.
clad in gaily-colored decorations and streaming pennants, make their way toward
the many Tin Hau temples. Most of the flotilla heads towards the biggest temple,
Da Miao (the Great Temple) in Joss House Bay in the New Territories. There they
make their offerings, pay their respects and pray for a bountiful and safe year
origins of Tin Hau are diffuse but popular belief is that she was born the sixth
and youngest daughter of a Sung dynasty (AD 960-1279) mandarin named Mo Niang,
lived in a small fishing village called Pu Tien in the Fukien Province on the
south-eastern coast of China and is supposed to have endeared herself to sailors
from a very young age through an uncanny ability to predict the weather. Born in
the eighth year of Emperor Yuen Yan's reign (1098), it wasn't until early days
of the Ch'ng dynasty (1644-1912), about 600 years after her death, that the
benevolent Emperor K'ang-hsi (1654-1722) canonized her with the title "Queen of
Heaven" and mother of all boat people and sailors.
Tin Hau is
supposed to quell the seas, allowing bountiful hauls for fishermen and keeping
sickness away from all seafaring types. It is said that Mo Niang could walk on
water if supplied with a straw mat, so elaborate mats are woven as offerings for
Chau is Hong Kong's largest fishing island and each May sees floating children
and towers of lucky buns; the world's only Bun Festival.
origins of this Taoist rite can be traced back hundreds of years to the Qing
Dynasty (1644-1911), when Cheung Chau was devastated by a storm, followed by an
outbreak of the plague which claimed many lives. Believing the island to be
haunted, the locals performed a sacrificial ceremony to placate the Gods and
pray for their favor. The festival is now timed to coincide with Buddha's
festival is complete without lion and dragon dancers, but this island's quirk is
the children dressed as mythological and modern heroes suspended above the
crowds on the tips of swords and paper fans. They form the float procession of
Piaose and are all safely secured within steel frames, though they appear to
glide through the air. The airborne children hardly move and their eyes can be
half closed, not because they are in a state of Nirvana but because they are
often drugged so as to endure the ceremonies. Though such treatment of children
may be disturbing to a Western mindset it is such a unique festival that
anthropologists are drawn to it every year and parents consider it a great
honour for their offspring to be part of the procession.
quarter to midnight a paper effigy of the King of the Ghosts is set on fire,
giant incense sticks are lit and the buns are harvested and distributed to the
villagers, who, delighted to be sharing in this auspicious good fortune,
celebrate late into the night.
Birthday of Lord Buddha
birthday is celebrated throughout Hong Kong (and officially, since 1999), though
prime sites are the Po Lin monastery on Lantau Island (home to the world's
largest seated outdoor Buddha), the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin
and the Miu Fat Monastery in Tuen Mun.
Worshippers show their devotion by bathing the Buddha statues and feasting on
sumptuous vegetarian dishes. Though a day of great reverence, non-Buddhist
visitors are welcome and it is an opportunity to visit Hong Kong's Buddhist
monks and monasteries.
Kung Birthday Festival
is an important patron deity of seafarers. His birthday festival, which
coincides with Buddha's, is celebrated with considerable devotion and fanfare at
the Tam Kung Temple, built in 1905 in the Shau Kei Wan district on Hong Kong
Island. Shau Kei Wan is also known as Ah Kung Yam, or "Ancestor's Rocky Hill".
is a local Taoist boy-god said to control the weather. He can calm storms by
throwing peas into the air, or cause them by throwing water. His cult is strong
in coastal areas like Hong Kong and Macau. Little is known about this cryptic
figure except that he was of human origin, born in Guangdong province during the
Ching dynasty, and that he is the object of devotion and veneration for boatsmen
and seafarers in the region, who invoke him for the protection of their
(Dragon Boat Festival)
dragon boat races were first held in 1976 as part of the 2000-year-old Tuen Ng
Festival and have now become an annual event. Over 100 teams from across the
globe participate in the waters around Hong Kong and its islands. After the
locals have raced, the event becomes an international open. The main
competitions take place on Shing Mun River, at Sha Tin in the New Territories.
race the elaborately-decorated boats to the beat of heavy drums. The boats, more
than ten meters in length, have ornately-carved and painted dragon heads and
tails. Each carries a crew of 20-22 paddlers. Sitting two abreast, with a
steersman at the back and a drummer at the front, the paddlers are urged on by
the pounding drums and the roar of the crowds.
festival commemorates the death of a popular Chinese national hero, Qu Yuan, who
drowned himself in the Mi Lo River during the 3rd century BC, in protest against
a corrupt government. Legend has it that as locals attempted to rescue him, they
beat drums to scare fish away and threw dumplings into the sea to keep the fish
from eating his body. During the festival period, people eat rice-and-meat
dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and many look forward to swimming, or even
simply dipping their hands in the water, to symbolize trying to save him.
also a Bathtub Race: one of the most fun-filled competitions of the day. Each
bathtub can have two paddlers and handsome prizes are promised to the winners.
Kong Book Fair
high-profile event in the Hong Kong calendar, the annual Book Fair at the Hong
Kong Convention and Exhibition Center goes well beyond books and into the realms
of electronic publishing, educational software and audio-visual learning aids.
There are journals, newspapers and, of course, a variety of books from a wide
range of Hong Kong publishers.
more than 350 exhibitors and visitor numbers reach an impressive 500,000 over
the course of the event. The festivities and reading materials are in Chinese.
Kong Food Expo
by the Trade Development Council at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition
Center, this annual expo celebrates and promotes the island's food industry to
both trade and consumers. Visitors get to enjoy entertainment, demonstrations,
food sampling, and kitchen tips during this five-day event.
suppliers from Australia, the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and the
United States showcase their latest products. Included are gourmet and celebrity
chefs' cooking demonstrations.
Mid-Autumn Moon Cake Festival
Chinese tradition, the Mid-Autumn Moon Cake Festival a time in which families
gather to relax, give thanks, celebrate family unity and view the full moon, and
a celebratory banquet is typically held at midnight.
festival people eat special yuek beng (moon cakes) containing any ingredients
from ground lotus and sesame to various sugary fillings. In Shanghai red bean
paste has always been a favorite filling for revelers.
feature of the festival is the colored Chinese paper lanterns, traditionally in
the shapes of animals, which decorate almost every house. Festival altars are
also adorned with five dishes of round fruits: apples, peaches etc., as these
symbolize the moon, as well as family unity.
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Kong Open Golf Championships
the stunning scenery of Fanling, the Hong Kong Open Golf Championship is the
longest-running professional sporting event, with many great players waiting to
take up the challenge.