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A Very Gweilo CNY: Embracing the fun & festivities of CNY in HK

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Ellie Kate

Go Bananas!
Celebrate the Year of the Monkey in Hong Kong

Have a case of the post-Christmas blues? Don’t despair – being in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year is sure to turn that frown upside down.

Chinese New Year is the festival that marks and celebrates the start of the Lunar New Year. Think visits to family and friends, delicious treats, fireworks, parades, public holidays and gift giving. All great things.

Monkey business

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Crack out the bananas, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey in Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are said to be intelligent, versatile and quick-witted. They’re also known to be gentle and honest, which grants them a fulfilled love life. But they’re not perfect – their shortcomings include an impulsive temper and tendency to look down upon others (probably from the treetops).


Lucky Numbers: 1, 7, 8
Lucky Colours: White, Gold, Blue
Lucky Flowers: Chrysanthemum, Alliums
Lucky Directions: North, Northwest, West (That’s good news for Kim and Kanye)


So here are my top picks. I’ve gotta be honest with you – you’ll see some weird and wonderful things out there, but trust me when I say that you’re gonna love every minute.

There will be crowds

Courtesy of HK Magazine

Courtesy of HK Magazine

Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade – 8th February
Brightly coloured floats, traditional dancing lions and dragons, troupes of nimble dancers, acrobats, drummers and cheering crowds – what more could you want?

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Chinese New Year Fireworks – 9th February
Baby, these are fireeeeeworkks, head to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to watch their colours burstttttt.

Make your own luck

Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees

Courtesy of Fat Lady Says

Courtesy of Fat Lady Says

Make a wish by writing your name on some red paper, tie it to a mandarin and throw it onto one of the wishing trees. If you’re rubbish at throwing, bring a friend who’s great at carnival games. Your mandarin orange needs to land on a branch and stay there in order for your wish to come true!

Feast your eyes on something pretty

Pulse: Hong Kong’s Waterfront 3D Light Show – 10th-29th February
Make it a night to remember with a S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R 3D LIGHT SHOW! It’s actually pretty cool, complete with audiovisual effects.

Spring Lantern Festival – 22nd February
Hello, date night! Take your lover (back to) Tsim Sha Tsui to gawk at beautiful, glowing lanterns set against the night sky. From goldfish to pomegranates and blossoms, the lanterns take the forms of auspicious Chinese symbols.

Lucky Lunar Fiesta 6th – 21st February
You had me at Fiesta. Head down to Ocean Park to see ice skating shows, kung-fu performances, traditional dances, aerial acrobatics and more fancy footwork spectacles.

To market, to market

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Make your way to the vibrant Flower Market in Victoria Park. From orange trees to orchids, plum blossoms, lucky bamboo, peonies and daffodils, this is one sweet-smelling way to while away an afternoon.

The do’s and don’ts

Of course, in any new city, the last thing you want to accidentally do is offend local cultural traditions. It can be tough to navigate where to get involved and where to hang back. So, I thought I’d give you a few pointers:

Give it a go:

  1. Bust out the red. Start the new year by wearing brightly-coloured clothing. Your positive attitude and appearance on New Year’s day indicates good things to come in the year ahead – and it will be easier for your mates to spot you in the crowd.
  2. Greet people with kind words and nice wishes for the New Year. Not that you needed reminding. Do this anyway.
  3. Ensure the first thing you eat on New Year’s day is something sweet for a sweet year. Waffles for breakfast, am I right?
  4. Try Braised Black Moss pig’s trotter – the dish is representative of receiving a surprising surplus of income. So dig in!
  5. Tuck into dried oysters, known as ho si in Cantonese. It sounds similar to ‘good business’, so these bad boys are gobbled up quickly.

Steer clear:

  1. Don’t wear white or black clothing – these colours are associated with mourning in Chinese culture.
  2. Don’t swear or speak about death and dying – it’s taboo and is also a surefire way to be the party-pooper in dinner conversation.
  3. Don’t drop your chopsticks – it’s bad luck! If you can’t master them, use a fork. Don’t even try. I mean it.
  4. Don’t give less than HKD$50 Lai See (red packet) money – and never give an uneven amount. Round numbers, people.

Ellie Kate

Ellie Kate is one half of  The Quick Word Company , a creative copywriting and content creation studio in Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong she lives and breathes every corner of this awesome city.

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