What are the major festivals in Hong Kong?

When it comes to festivities, Hong Kong really does offer the best of both worlds as it is influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures.

On the Western calendar, Christmas is the year’s biggest holiday season, when the city is ablaze with an invasion of LED Santas and reindeer. The New Year’s Eve countdown always draws huge crowds, and Halloween attracts costumed revellers to popular entertainment spots like Lan Kwai Fong.

On the other hand, vibrant Chinese culture as well as unique local customs are on full display during Chinese festivals. Families are brought together at Mid-Autumn Festival by the promise of a full moon and full stomachs. While the Dragon Boat Festival is marked by exuberant boat races that have become international events.

For the annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival, the normally sleepy outlying island of Cheung Chau comes alive with processions of papier-mâché effigies of deities and people in colorful costumes, as well as bunsnatching competitions on giant bamboo towers covered in festive buns, known as “bun mountains”. It’s an annual must-see for locals and visitors alike.

One of the most important Chinese festivals, is Chinese New Year. This is the time when the whole city stops for a 3-day celebration, lion dances cavort through the streets, and friends and families visit each other to exchange greetings and gifts.

If you are married, you might want to take part in the local custom of giving “Lai See”, or red packets, to those who are single or younger among your family members. Each red packet contains a token amount of cash as a blessing. Since it is customary to mark the new year with as many new personal items as possible, including clothes, shoes, and even pyjamas, the locals also like to use crisp new banknotes for the red packets to symbolise the new year!

As one of the note-issuing banks in Hong Kong, HSBC offers a complimentary banknote exchange service during the run-up to Chinese New Year. Visit us then if you are in need of new banknotes.

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