Halfway through September this year marks the time to embrace one of Hong Kong’s more colourful celebrations. Mid-Autumn Festival will soon be upon us, which means it’s time to break out the lanterns to honour the long-time tradition of families giving thanks for the harvest. Held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in the Chinese calendar – which, this year, is Friday 13 September – the festival historically marks and celebrates the end of the autumn period of harvesting crops.
During this thanksgiving celebration, families would traditionally gather to eat mooncakes and admire the full moon. Moon worship also played a part; food was offered to the moon, and lanterns were carried to symbolise its light.
So, how do people recognise Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong these days? Well, we still come together to celebrate with family – and, for many expats, that can mean being with our close friends because we’re away from family back in our home countries.
A must-see event over the course of the festival period is the enormous fire dragon dance in Tai Hang. At this event, a Chinese dragon constructed with 70,000 glowing incense sticks winds through the streets down to Tin Hau, behind Causeway Bay. It’s quite a sight! This year, the spectacle will be held for three nights, from 12 to 14 September, starting at around 8.15pm each evening. (For details, visit taihangfiredragon.hk.)
If you can’t make it to Tai Hang, the good news is that there are local gatherings held all over the city. Here’s our guide to some of the best places for enjoying the festivities.
#1 Fire Dragon Dance at Pok Ful Lam Village
This may be a smaller scale version of the Tai Hang fire dragon dance, but for those in the Pok Fu Lam neighbourhood, it’s a great option. This event is all about community, so make sure you don’t miss it if you live nearby.
#2 Causeway Bay Urban MidAutumn Lantern Carnival
Lantern Carnivals are held in a few places across the city. This one in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park is a must-see for those living on the Island. The event happens on the Friday, and it features beautiful lanterns, cultural performances and stalls with games. There’s also a similar carnival at Tsing Yi Park.
#3 Lantern Display at TST
Not to be confused with the Spring Lantern Festival (which happens at the very beginning of the year), the Mid-Autumn Lantern Display along the promenade at TST is lovely. If you live on the Island, take the Star Ferry over after sunset and check it out. It starts right near the clock tower, so you can’t miss it.
#4 Local Beaches
If you live near Shek O beach, Discovery Bay’s Tai Pak beach, Repulse Bay beach or many other beaches, you can head there and you’ll likely find your community gathered with lights. It’s a fun evening for the kids and many families bring a picnic.
Say no to glow sticks!
Glow sticks are popular at these events but please keep in mind they’re very damaging to the environment. This is single-use plastic at it’s worst. So, keep the glow sticks at home and try a lantern with a torch.
See more in our Living in Hong Kong section
This article first appeared in the August/September 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.