Last year, in Taiwan, I had my first experience celebrating Chinese/Lunar New Year at the source in Asia and I learned that it is a much bigger ordeal than I’d thought.
That being said, I actually found the festivities in Hong Kong to be a bit more tame than in Taipei, comparitively speaking. Hong Kong didn’t have firecrackers going off at all hours of the day and there were no incense burning constantly to ward off bad spirits. Also, Taipei was quite deserted during the holiday, while Hong Kong seemed a lot busier and more touristy.
I guess for some reason people are assuming that Hong Kong is a better place to celebrate, but in my opinion after experiencing both, I’m going to recommend Taiwan all the way. You can check out last year’s rundown here.
While I’d recommend Taiwan over Hong Kong for CNY, given the choice, I still enjoyed the celebrations this year in Hong Kong. And lucky me: I got to drop into Taiwan for the Lantern Festival again, which was not only my favorite memory of 2016, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’m so happy I got to go again, and it lived up to my high expectations for a second year in a row. But more on that later.
First, let’s talk about Hong Kong…
Something that is popular during the New Year in Hong Kong that I didn’t see at all in Taipei were the orange trees:
These are displayed in entryways to homes, apartments, shops, etc. to symbolize wealth and luck in the New Year. I also saw people eating oranges all over the place, and the subsequent orange peels also all over the place.
There were also, of course, lots of red decorations abound.
Parade and Fireworks
The Chinese New Year Parade in Hong Kong was something to remember. Although it was really crowded and difficult to find a good viewing area, it was worth it and I’d do it again.
There was even a giant Gudetama balloon!!!!!!!!!!!
There were also dance performances and floats from all over the world.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
This is ranked as one of the top festivals in the world, and even though I went last year, I was hoping I’d be able to make it back again. Last year I was with a group and we were getting squished in the crowd so badly that everyone I was with wanted to leave and go explore Pingxi instead.
Understandably, this is what we were dealing with:
While Pingxi, is beautiful and I’m happy we did explore it a bit more, I knew almost immediately that I’d want to try and return to get a better view of the main lantern release area, which we were pretty far away from last year.
I succeeded! One of the benefits of going-it-alone: I was able to slip through the hefty crowd pretty easily and stay as long as I pleased. The result was being front row for one of the most beautiful things I’ll ever lay my eyes on.
Back in Hong Kong, to close things out, here was a different kind of lantern festival set up near the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, with some permanent displays:
I don’t know if I’ll ever tire of Chinese New Year festivities but in the meantime, I wish you all a very prosperous year of the rooster!