Hong Kong has 17 public holidays per year, helping make up for the generally stingy annual leave allowances local companies give. The holidays fall into three main groups. First come the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter. Then there’s a patriotic group including Labour Day, National Day, and the ‘Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day’. Finally, the bulk are traditional Chinese cultural holidays such as Lunar New Year and the Ching Ming festival, which have been celebrated in Chinese communities for hundreds if not thousands of years. These holidays are based on a traditional lunar calendar, so they move around year by year. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is given as the holiday instead.
China has three ‘Golden Week’ national holidays per year, corresponding to the Hong Kong public holidays for the Lunar New Year, Labour Day, and National Day. During these weeks, basically all of China is on holiday at the same time.
Lunar New Year (more commonly known as Chinese New Year or just CNY) is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. It is the one time of year that most of Hong Kong’s shops and businesses close, with many people travelling home to spend the time with their families.
Two holidays you should make the effort to attend are the Tuen Ng Festival (more commonly known as the ‘Dragon Boat Festival’), and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
To visitors, Ching Ming and Chung Yeung Festivals are simply two public holidays that fall in spring and autumn. For locals, though, these are days to pay respects to their ancestors. Many families visit graveyards and older hillside graves to tidy them up and make offerings. The festivals take place in April and October respectively.
Chinese (Lunar) New Year, which is usually in February, is the biggest festival in the Chinese calendar, when everyone makes the effort to get home and spend it with their families. It’s the one time of the year when Hong Kong feels quiet, with many shops and businesses closed. Major events held over the three-day holiday include a huge fireworks display over the harbour, and a street parade of floats, performers and marching bands from around the world.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival is one of Hong Kong’s unique events that takes place in May. This week-long festival culminates in a parade of costumed children on stilts, and a mad race to the top of bun-clad bamboo towers.
In November, Cricket Sixes is your best chance to see international cricket in East Asia, the weekend-long Sixes is cricket’s answer to the Rugby Sevens. As with the Sevens, the Sixes follows a format that encourages a faster, more entertaining game, attracting a wider audience than the usual cricket buffs.
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