Best Hong Kong events in 2019
Take part in a Hong Kong Chinese New Year tradition with a visit to one of the city’s flower markets, which features bountiful offerings of orchids, cherry blossoms, daffodils and other festive blooms. Running alongside the flower market in Victoria Park is the annual night market, selling everything from quirky knickknacks to politically satirical toys. Since we’re welcoming the Year of the Pig in 2019, expect plenty of porcine-themed gifts too.
Get ready for critically acclaimed stage performances, stunning dance pieces and sensational musical renditions packed into a hectic four weeks. Back for its 47th outing, the Hong Kong Arts Festival includes more than 160 shows, including Touching the Void, staged by Tony Award-winning theatre director Tom Morris, and a concert led by Brazil’s revered São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Here’s our pick of the five best shows to catch.
Prepare for some seriously fast-moving traffic in Central once again as the world’s premier electric racing series returns to Hong Kong with more top-notch driving, never-before-seen car displays and plenty of interactive experiences. Watch the drivers test their skills and speed pell-mell around a 2km circuit that abounds Victoria Harbour. Get tickets for the grandstand at Tamar Park or opt for Lung Wo Road to get a close-up view of the cars and feel the vibrations as they blast past.
K-pop band BTS might just be the biggest thing in pop right now. Lucky for us, the seven-piece group has announced that they’re performing not one but four nights in Hong Kong in March. As part of their Love Yourself world tour, you can expect BTS to bring their A-game and electrifying dance moves synched to their chart-topping hits like Fire, Blood, Sweat and Tears and DNA.
Taking over Central Harbourfront in March (before Art Central, that is) are some of Asia’s finest food and drink purveyors. Yes, it’s Taste of Hong Kong! The amazing four-day foodie festival features dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants, including the likes of John Anthony, Old Bailey and Chôm Chôm. With fantastic bites, drinks and live entertainment, this exciting event should satisfy any gourmand.
The crown jewel of Hong Kong Art Month and the city’s art calendar, Art Basel returns on March 29 for another three-day takeover of the Hong Kong Convention Centre featuring masterpieces and contemporary artworks from more than 200 leading international galleries. Previous years have seen the display of rare Picasso paintings, a giant sculpture of a baby with pixelated genitals and even dead dictators laid to rest in glass caskets. There’s certainly never a dull moment at Art Basel.
Whether you’re in it for the thrilling rugby action or the raucuous party atmosphere – we’re looking at you, everyone in the South Stand – it’s undeniable that the Hong Kong Sevens is one of the biggest events of the year here. Always sold out, tickets are the stuff of legend these days (though joining a local rugby club helps provide better access). If you can’t make the main event, there are also plenty of satellite events taking place like the Hong Kong Tens, prior to the big tournament, as well as rugby-themed parties at Lee Tung Avenue.
This critically acclaimed music and technology festival has returned bigger and better every year since debuting in 2017. Sónar is a fun music fest that brings with it a bevvy of top-drawer acts, plus eye-opening displays of technology. Last year’s bash featured French electro legend Laurent Garnier leading the charge alongside The Black Madonna and Mouse on the Keys. The technology showcase welcomed the likes of Sophia the Robot.
When May arrives, you know what that means: Le French May. The annual two-month-long festival brings with a raft of Gallic events, experiences and entertainment. Previous years have featured energetic dance performances, operas like Carmen and the crowd-favourite French Traditional Gourmet Market at Stanley Plaza.
A music, art, and wellness revelry all rolled into one, Shi Fu Miz is back with a new lineup and returns to Sai Yuen Farm, Cheung Chau’s popular camping ground slash adventure spot. Experience the best underground electronic at the two-day fest and dive into an almost ridiculous amount of activities including yoga, gong bath meditation, drumming, silent disco, street art and urban farming to name just a few.
The one time of year when the outlying island of Cheung Chau becomes the centre of attention and is rammed with tourists and locals alike, the Bun Festival is one of the most important celebrations of local cultural heritage. The week-long event kicks off with a lively, traditional parade and builds to the iconic Bun Scrambling Competition, where participants climb giant 60-feet-high bamboo towers covered with buns and try to grab as many buns as possible. Also don’t miss the colourful display of paper-mâché deities, the signature massive buns and bamboo towers.
Everyone’s favourite guitar-toting singer-songwriter Jason Mraz is returning to Hong Kong. Mraz will be making a stop at the Hong Kong Convention Centre on May 17 and 18 to play tunes from his newest album Know as he undertakes his new Good Vibes 2019 Asian Tour. Have your voices ready as you fail to escape singing along to annoyingly good earworms like I’m Yours, I Won’t Give Up and The Remedy.
These days, Dragon Boat Festival is more than just a traditional Chinese festival marking the death of scholar Qu Yuan, but rather a giant sports event and waterfront party. The Stanley Dragon Boat championships see Hong Kong's top dragon boat teams battle it out for the big prize with participants in outrageous outfits partying by the water and cheering them on.
Though dates haven’t been confirmed, we expect the popular electronic music festival to return this June for another multisensory, state-of-the-art audiovisual extravaganza. Despite its decision to move to an indoors venue last year – safety issues and all – that didn’t affect the lineup with headliners like David Guetta, Swedish hitmakers Axwell & Ingrosso and electronic duo Galantis. Whenever it takes place, we predict Ultra will bring another top-notch event.
Need to pick up books in bulk ahead of your summer beach vacation? Or do you want your kids to get a head start on their academic studying? The Hong Kong Book Fair literally has it all. You’ll find a wide spectrum of genres here from the latest popular fiction to travel diaries, all at incredible deals, as well as multiple lectures and book signings running throughout the six-day event. Just be mindful of the crowds and all those suitcases.
Following on straight after the book fair is Ani-Com and Games Expo, which attracts comic book, anime and video game fans to HKCEC. There, they’re surrounded by limited-edition comics, figures and other collectables from Hong Kong, Japan and across the world. The event is also one giant cosplay gathering where fans dress up as their favourite characters in impressive outfits and designs. Grab the latest console game and don’t miss the winner of the cosplay competition.
Forget about summer bods. Hong Kong Food Expo is the biggest culinary event of the summer, allowing visitors to sample international cuisine and delicacies at dirt cheap prices. You can also bring home your favourite snacks and food products from popular brands like Kee Wah Bakery and Vita Green. We’re not kidding when we say there’s something for everyone. There’s no way you’ll be going home empty-handed.
Offering a welcome injection of diversity into Hong Kong's often staid music scene, the reggae ska fest is a unique and seriously fun celebration of the genre put together with the help of local and international acts. Taking place every year in August, the summer heat paired with grooving beats and vibes makes it one of our favourite events of the year.
Following a minor disagreement with local craft breweries last year, there’s a question about whether Beertopia will be back again in 2019. If it does, expect the massive craft beer festival to take place around September with an impressive selection of craft suds, brewed ales and ciders from all over the globe. Previous editions have featured food trucks, a shisha garden and a giant beer pong table. Fingers crossed that the event makes an appearance again this autumn.
The Hong Kong International Tattoo Convention has been a surprising sleeper hit for our SAR, becoming one of the more popular calendar events of the year. Whether it be the fascination and curiosity over tattoos or genuine love for body ink, thousands of visitors showed up at the convention in September at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal for a chance to meet renowned tattooists and enthusiasts showing off their full-body ink. There’s a chance to get inked by tattoo legends personally as well as to pick up some locally designed merchandise.
One of the city’s largest diversity events, Pink Dot is a giant celebration of love and acceptance in support of Hong Kong’s LGBTI community. The event – and let’s be honest, the outdoor party – usually takes place around October at West Kowloon, features a series of performances from friends and allies of the community. Make sure you have your pink T-shirt and rainbow flags at the ready.
While it’s no Wimbledon, the Hong Kong Tennis Open manages to draw huge crowds to Victoria Park Tennis Stadium year after year for a chance to see some of the sport’s biggest female names in action. We’ve previously seen the likes of Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber come to town – not to mention rising stars from China. Best of all, the qualifying rounds and the first round of the tournament are free admission.
What’s not to love about world-class wine, Michelin-quality food and unbeatable skyline views? Yeah, that’s what we thought. Returning sometime around the end of October, channel your inner sommelier at Wine & Dine Festival as you sample a dizzying selection of red, white and sparkling wines, and food pairings created by master chefs. You can even hone your knowledge with tasting classes led by industry experts. There are artisanal cheeses, coffees and snacks available throughout the day to help you cleanse and refresh your palate.
Hong Kong’s answer to Glastonbury and Coachella, Clockenflap is undeniably the biggest music festival in town and one of the most anticipated events every year. The 2018 edition of the three-day music and arts fest saw some seriously big bands and acts play, like Interpol and Khalid, as well as super talented up-and-comers within the local music scene. It’ll be exciting to see what 2019 brings.
Hong Kong is aiming to be Asia’s comedy central with the help of TakeOut Comedy’s annual 17-day competition held every November. It welcomes local and international comedians to show off their best routines for a bid at the title and the opportunity to perform at iconic institutions in America like Punch Line and The Laugh Factory. The finals are particularly fun where the audience can help influence the judges by the loudness of their laughter. Laughs are guaranteed.