50 things to do in Hong Kong this winter
1. Ice skate in the snow
It's the best place to pretend it's snowing in Hong Kong. The Ice Wonderland set up at Tsim Sha Tsui's waterfront has outdoor ice-skating and fake snowfall. With the merry festive lights and a bit of imagination, we can almost believe we are a little bit closer to Santa. Until January 1.
2. Clap politely for Hong Kong Open golfers
The early birdie catches US$2.5 million at Fanling’s Hong Kong Golf Club on December 1-4. US Open champion Rory McIlroy and friends will descend upon the New Territories course for the UBS Hong Kong Open.
3. Sing, or just listen, to Christmas carols
Although shopping mall yuletide music can drive us mad each year, nothing beats some authentic Christmas tunes for getting us in the mood for the festive season. From December 2-4, Christmas Magic with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta will feature all the favorites at a sing-along, dress-up special for all the family.
4. Chug beer
Missed the Oktoberfest? Drown your sorrows at the Belgian Beer Festival on December 3.
5. Enjoy some icy mountain air
Make a trip to Tai Mo Shan -- Hong Kong's highest peak at 957 meters -- to look for icicles, a novelty in sub-tropical Hong Kong. This year's winter is predicted to be colder and longer than normal.
6. Visit an an artsy circus
Cirque Mechanics’ Birdhouse Factory that takes place November 30–December 11 is a circus that takes its inspiration from an eclectic cocktail of artists including Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, outrageous cartoonist Rube Goldberg and classic Chaplin slapstick “Modern Times."
7. Act drunk while you're sober with Far East Movement
Get slizzard and fly like a G6 as Asian-American chart-toppers Far East Movement come back to the Orient and rock KITEC on December 5.
8. Experience a lunar eclipse
Catch the total lunar eclipse on December 10, which should be visible in Hong Kong if the weather is fine. The Hong Kong Space Museum will hold an observation gathering, "Night of Total Lunar Eclipse," in the central section of the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui from 7.30-11.30 p.m. See Hong Kong Observatory for details.
9. Kick it kung fu-style at an outdoor cinema
Watch a movie with the folks at Rooftop Cinema HK on the rooftop of the M88 Building in Central. Fast becoming a local institution, the outdoor cinema will be showing kung fu flick “Ip Man” on December 5. Its program of classic and quotable films will last until December 14. See Rooftop Cinema returns.
10. Hear San Francisco indie music
Deerhoof bring their San Francisco indie vibe to Hong Kong on December 7 and show why they're lauded by the likes of musical giants The Flaming Lips and Dinosaur Jr.
11. Scream on a brand new roller coaster
Open your Advent calendar with an adrenalin rush, as Hong Kong’s local theme park Ocean Park opens its latest coaster-filled themed area, Thrill Mountain on December 9.
12. Watch a Disney parade
Rivals Hong Kong Disneyland Resort was one step ahead, opening its latest offering Toy Story Land back in November. They will be celebrating Christmas with parades and special shows that will delight the kid in all of us like only Disney can. Until January 2.
13. Find out what Clockenflap means
Bombay Bicycle Club. The Cribs. Santigold. All in Hong Kong and performing at the free weekend arts and music fest that can only be Clockenflap 2011 on December 10-11. See Clockenflap on CNNGo. See how you can win VIP tickets to Clockenflap.
14. See what flying colors really look like
15. Find cheap deals ... without bargaining
Take a gander at one of the largest outdoor expos in Hong Kong. The 46th Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo featuring famous brands from home and abroad is the best place to spree on cheap deals for food products, household goods, health and beauty products and more. December 10–January 2.
16. Take a design detour
Hurry and catch the multitude of installations, workshops, discussions, outdoor film and live music at annual design festival Detour 2011 before it ends: November 25–December 11.
17. Horse around
For the equine-inclined: the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races on December 11 is one of the five major race meetings of the world. With prize money of HK$68 million up for grabs, it brings in some of racing’s most thoroughbred horses and jockeys and hopefully even a bit of extra Christmas luck.
18. Be thankful for your dysfunctional family
The haunting multimedia theatrical piece “Nocturne” tells the tale of how grief can shatter a family. It may not be your average Christmas fare, but it might help put those post-turkey squabbles with your folks into perspective. December 14-17.
19. Catch a sweet theater piece
If you prefer something a bit more traditional, you can’t get more Christmassy than a blast of Sugar Plum Fairies and The Nutcracker Suite. The Hong Kong Ballet perform perennial festive fave “The Nutcracker” from December 17–27.
20. Catch a sour theater piece
Make it a double dose of seasonal stage specials with the award-winning production of “Scrooge -- The Musical” playing at the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre December 17–January 2. In Cantonese with English surtitles.
21. Cantopop your Christmas
Cantopop King Aaron Kwok Fu-shing will do his thing at the Hong Kong Coliseum with a 14-day residency, part of his "de Showy Masquerade World Tour" on December 18 until January 2.
22. Learn about a legend
After worshipping at the feet of a living legend of the local music scene, get nostalgic about one who is no longer with us. Roman Tam passed away in 2002 and is lauded as one of the greats. Five years in the making, check out the Hong Kong Heritage Museum’s exhibition “Applauding to Hong Kong Pop Legend: Roman Tam." Opens on December 21.
23. Stay awake on the longest night
Dong Zhi Festival or Winter Solstice lands on December 22 this year, why not celebrate the longest night of the year the local way? Shopping for and wearing new outfits and dining with friends and family is the preferred method of commemoration.
24. Gorge around a steaming pot
The default for dinner with family and friends during Hong Kong's winters is a hot pot meal. Try it at outdoor hot pot standby Heep Sing in Tin Hau.
25. Eat excellent spaghetti
Or splurge on gourmet Italian food at the newly-crowned three-star Michelin restaurant Otto e Mezzo. It's the best Italian restaurant outside of Italy -- according to the Michelin Guide, that is. See Otto e Mezzo on CNNGo.
26. Hold a warm cup
Or keep it simple with a hot cup of the best coffee in Hong Kong at Café Golden where they train their baristas for three months before letting them serve a fine cup of latte.
27. Listen to the symphony of angels
Christmas carols may well have melted your brain by the time the big day actually comes round, but if you can still handle some songs then the Symphony of Christmas Angels concert with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will put a classic spin on the seasonal celebrations. December 23-24.
28. Geek it out
Let your inner-geek run wild at the Asia Game Show 2011 that runs from December 23–26. The expo features all the games, toys, gadgets and cosplay you could possibly need to last you until next year.
29. Fight at a food fest
Prefer real sweets over eye-candy? Then head on over to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre between December 24-27 for the 9th Hong Kong Food Festival. The city’s largest indoor expo for foodies with its International Delicacy and Lunar New Year food zones should be able to satisfy your cravings.
30. See and hear grand old classics
Experience classic movies with a new twist on New Year’s Eve, as a live recorded performance by the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana play Puccini to the screening of Chen Kaige’s seminal piece “Turandot” as part of the Classical In Cinema series.
31. Ring in the new year
Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012! Count down and celebrate the New Year’s in Hong Kong. Times Square for the countdown, Victoria Harbour for the fireworks and Lan Kwai for the partying. Be warned: not a good itinerary for crowd-haters.
32. Sha Tin up your countdown
Or stay in one place for all your end-of-year action: the annual New Year’s Countdown Carnival in Sha Tin features dance, film, performances and pyrotechnic displays to herald in the big 1-2.
33. Find out what 88 dragons looks like
In 2012, we’ll be entering the Dragon so to speak, as the Year of the Dragon is the new lunar year. Short of resurrecting Bruce Lee, the government has done the next big thing to celebrate this occasion: by attempting to break their own Guinness World Record for traditional dancing Lions and Dragons. There will be 88 of the serpentine beasts and the skilled dancers hidden beneath winding their way through Central to Wanchai along Chater Road on January 1.
34. Dance to Scissor Sisters ... live
New Year’s blues got you down and just don’t feel like dancing? Attending a concert by New York glam-rockers Scissor Sisters on January 5 should sort that out.
35. Blow the mind on SIchuan spice
It’s January so the big coats will be coming out all over town, but we say why break out the fur when we can break out in a sweat instead? Head over to Little Chili in North Point, one of the most authentic Sichaun restaurants in Hong Kong and tuck in to some shuizhu niurou (水煮牛肉), beef cooked in a spicy broth: tender strips of meat in a thick, tongue-burning, body-heating sauce.
36. Discard better judgement at a K-pop concert
Guaranteed to attract tweens, teens and those-who-should-know-better by the hundreds K-pop’s latest big thing CNBLUE have been carving up the Asian market. They take over Asia Expo as part of their Blue Storm Asia Tour on January 7.
37. Get electro-shocked with Metronomy
Cool Brit Electro-popsters Metronomy bring their latest album “English Riviera” and their experimental instrumental collection of tracks, remixes and covers to Hong Kong on the first step of their Asia Tour on January 10.
38. Treat the kids
Treat your youngsters to some world-class child-friendly theater as part of Kidsfest! 2012. From January 10–29, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts will host international adaptations of some of the best-loved children’s books including “The Tiger Who Came to Tea.”
39. Put the lip ring back in
They couldn’t make it in 2011 due to the illness of lead singer Pierre Bouvier but they didn’t want to let their fans down for too long. Better late than never: Montreal punk-rockers Simple Plan are finally in Hong Kong on January 10.
40. Blossom at a Lunar New Year market
With Lunar New Year kicking off on January 23 in 2012, make sure you head down to one of the many New Year flower markets beforehand. Victoria Park in Causeway Bay hosts the biggest and on New Year's eve (January 22) it will be open till the early morning of the following day. The later it gets, the more you’ll be able to haggle for the festive favorites including peach blossoms, chrysanthemum, daffodils, orchids and miniature orange trees for good luck. Also on CNNGo: So-bad-they're-good items at the Chinese New Year market.
41. Make a wish come true
Speaking of luck, take a trip to Lam Tsuen in Tai Po to make a wish at the Lam Tsuen wishing trees certainly couldn’t hurt your chances for a successful Year of the Dragon. The Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival runs from January 23 to February 6.
42. Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with the brightly colored floats and marching bands of the Cathay Pacific International Lunar New Year Parade that saunters its way through Tsim Sha Tsui on January 23.
43. "Ooh" and "aah" at explosions
The following evening, January 24, Hong Kong unloads a fusillade of fireworks on the unsuspecting night’s sky.
44. Get lucky at the races
If you are unsure what to do with any remaining red packets, then the Hong Kong Jockey Club might have a few suggestions. The Lunar New Year Race Day, which takes place on the third day of the new year, is one of the most popular traditions in Hong Kong. Fans will be piling into Sha Tin Racecourse on January 25 to see if they can nab a new year’s winner.
45. Immerse in the arts
The World of Wearable Art, Nigel Kennedy, the Bavarian State Opera, Kevin Spacey as Richard III and The Importance of Being Earnest are some of the highlights of the 2012 Hong Kong Arts Festival. Coming to town January 28–March 8.
46. Dress silly and run
The only time when pounding along the streets of the city dressed as a large banana chasing a sneaker-clad gorilla won’t get you weird looks, it’s the return of the Hong Kong Marathon on February 5.
47. Buy chocolates and flowers
Don’t forget Valentine’s Day on February 14. Believe us, it’s never too early to book some dates in advance. The more popular places to wine and dine your date fills up months ahead of Cupid’s busiest time of year. But if you really get caught short we can help, with some last minute tips.
48. Ponder with the city
The year’s preeminent architecture and design showcase, the Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture\Urbanism, will be exploring the connection between people and their cities with the theme “Tri-ciprocal Cities: The Time, The Place, The People." The Hong Kong leg will be held in Hong Kong Kowloon Park and Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre from February 15–April 23.
49. Watch people get butt-kicked
Wushu doesn’t kid around when it puts on a tournament. The 10th Annual Hong Kong Wushu Championship will feature 8,000 participants, 10 events, HK$100 million of prize money and more black belts on show than if Karate Kid lived to be a 1,000-years-old. Check it out at the Asia Expo from February 24-28.
50. Eat rice, the best way
Have a last bowl of claypot rice before warmer weather hits and the dish goes out of fashion. Get it at these best claypot rice restaurants.