The most part of 2019 has been a rough year for all, and while there are more important things than stuffing your faces at some of the best restaurants in town or drowning your sorrows at popular bars in the city, sometimes, all you need is just a night or two of grand old fun to forget your woes – and we're here to help you with exactly that. From cultural outings by the waterfront to head-banging music festivals, here are some of the biggest events taking place in 2020.
RECOMMENDED: If you're more of a nemophilist, there are some great hikes to tackle and heritage trails to explore. Or, if you're not one to plan ahead, we've got some great ideas on things you can do in Hong Kong.
Best Hong Kong events in 2020
The Hong Kong Marathon sees 22,500 runners take on the ultimate challenge of 42km along our iconic harbourfront and through Kowloon, finishing in Victoria Park. If you’re not up for the full mara’, there’s a half, a 10km, a 3km wheelchair race, a 2.2km Youth Dash and a 1km Family Run in Victoria Park. It’s a bit of a way off, but you’ll need a good few months to train for such a humungous challenge.
Although there will be no dry good stalls this year, the Chinese New Year flower markets around town are still great places to go and pick up some blooms. Head to any one of the 15 markets between January 19 to 25 and browse between bountiful offerings of orchid, cherry blossoms, daffodils and other festive blooms.
An six-day festival dedicated to celebrating India’s culture and rich diversity, India By the Bay returns hosting an array of programs that brings together music, theatre, dance, food, wellness, film and literature. Visitors will get the chance to take part in classical Indian dance workshops, catch live music performances, rejuvenate with a holistic day of meditation and indulge in a gala dinner with delicacies from regions across India.
Head to AsiaWorld-Expo to catch an exciting world-class show jumping competition – a rarity in Hong Kong. Aside from the main event, there will be plenty of entertainment including fine dining and wines, an Asian Arabian horse show, live music performances, as well as handicraft workshops and kid-friendly activities at the Prestige Village.
Strutting their way around the world in their fiercest 9-inch stilettos heels, RuPaul and his fabulous posse are scheduled for a sickening return to Hong Kong. Starring all your favourite queens from past seasons, fans can expect a full-on eleganza extravaganza packed with shimmery dresses, big hairdos, lip-sync assassins, jaw-dropping reveals and all the killer death drops you can wish for.
Making his way to Hong Kong for the very first time, rock icon and King of Darkness that is Marilyn Manson himself is going to be taking over AsiaWorld-Expo in March, 2020. More than two decades into his career, Manson still draws controversy for his anti-religious sentiment and frequent references to debauchery in his work – just look at his creepy new music video 'God's Gonna Cut You Down' with its crucifixes, shotgun waving and being buried alive. It may be worth noting that the concert will be held on a Wednesday, so this would be perfect for those in need of rescue from their mid-week hump day blues...?
Fronted by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, the five-time Grammy Award-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Green Day is returning to Hong Kong ten years after their last live show here. Known for hit songs like Wake Me Up When September Ends, American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, 21 Guns and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), that speak to everyone's angsty inner teen, the band is set to perform at AsiaWorld-Expo on March 20.
One of our city's most anticipated music festivals Sonar Hong Kong will be returning in March 2020. British rapper Stormzy will be closing the festival as part of the Asian leg of his world tour, while the full festival line-up and the programme of creative technology experiences are yet to be announced. Tickets have already gone on sale for the public, fans can also get them through the festival's official channel.
From February 13 to March 14, our city will be drenched in arts and culture as the 48th Hong Kong Arts Festival returns to our shores. Featuring everything from Chinese opera to music and theatre performances for kids, the festival’s show-stopping schedule of spectacular events will keep culture vultures in town happily entertained all month long.
Whether it’s because of the harbourside locale, the open grass space for food or its ever-expanding diversity of works on display, Art Central’s popularity continues to be on the rise. A relaxed and less stuffy affair than Art Basel, this waterfront art fair is unmissalbe for all culture vultures. Visitors can look forward to edgy, urban and contemporary artworks presented by more than 100 international galleries, specially commissioned large-scale installations and interactive performances from leading contemporary artists from the Asia-Pacific region.
The crown jewel of Hong Kong Art Month and the city’s art calendar, Art Basel returns on March 19 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.
As a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women, Amaluna tells the epic, emotional love story between Queen Prospera's daughter and a brave young suitor as a group of young men lands on a mysterious island in the wake of a storm. Held under the Big Top at Central Harbourfront Event Space, ticket sales have already started. So if you're all about enticing storylines and up-in-the-air performances, go snap up a ticket now!
Whether you’re in it for the thrilling rugby action or the raucous 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 its unmissable kick-off concert that welcomed the likes of Gwen Stefani, UB40 and even the Hoff himself in the past.
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.
If you missed out on Fuerza Bruta Wayra at MGM Cotai last year, then you'll be happy to hear that this internationally acclaimed immersive theatre experience is set to make its debut in Hong Kong in May! Now nine years off New York’s Broadway, this multi-sensory extravaganza certainly doesn’t play by any rules. There is no stage or seats for the audience, instead, they are encouraged to truly be a part of the experience, as performers glide through the air, twist their bodies into impossible shapes, dance on treadmills and break through walls.
Art Basel and Art Central may have come and gone but art doesn’t end in Hong Kong. If you’re interested in taking home a piece of art yet can’t afford the sky-high prices at the usual art fairs, this one is just for you. The clue is in the name, the Affordable Art Fair showcases artworks from more than 110 galleries, all priced between $1,000 and $100,000. Expect a diverse range of art from photography and traditional paintings to sculptures and urban art, created by notable international artists and homegrown talents. It’s a great opportunity to spruce up your living room!
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.
Having been diagnosed with Lyme disease a year after the release of her fifth album in 2013, Lavigne has been on a hiatus until last year when she dropped her single “Head above water”, a song depicting her struggles with the illness. Now ready to hit the road again with a worldwide tour of the same name, the Hong Kong concert will take place on May 24 at AsiaWorld-Expo with ticket sales starting on December 5.
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.
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 week-long 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.
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 have shown up over the past few years at the convention 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.
As the city's biggest celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, Pink Season paints the town in rainbow colours every year with a dazzling, jam-packed schedule. Whether you’re looking to dabble in the art of drag in a series of workshops, get your body and mind in tip-top shape with health talks and sporting events or enjoy amazing performances by local talents, there’s plenty of entertainment guaranteed.
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.
Yes, we know, the event was cancelled last year but fingers crossed it'll be back in 2020! What’s not to love about world-class wine, Michelin-quality food and unbeatable skyline views? The Wine & Dine Festival usually takes place sometime around the end of October.
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 festival was unfortunately cancelled only weeks prior to the event, we can only hope that the organisers will curate a bigger and better lineup than ever before this year.
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.
We Hongkongers love our electronic music, and there’s no better way to celebrate the holiday season with some of the world’s biggest spin masters at Creamfields. With three successful Hong Kong outings now under its belt, it wouldn’t surprise us if the renowned UK electronic bonanza Creamfields confirms another run here again in December with more crowd-favourite dance music and genre heavyweights like Armin Van Buuren and Diplo.
For some serious holiday spirit, there’s only really one market to beat them all – the Stanley Plaza Christmas Market. Come every December, the quaint seaside spot is transformed into a European fairytale land over several weekends replete with glass domes and bright multicoloured lights. Featuring more than 100 booths filled with decorative and edible goodies, the market also happens to be pet-, eco- and selfie-friendly.