Hong Kong things to do and what's on in 2018: Why you should visit

Hong Kong's new Symphony of Lights

For the first time since it launched in 2004, Hong Kong's nightly light show, Symphony of Lights on Victoria Harbour, has been revamped. Australian Emmy-award winner, Richard Lindsay curated the new show featuring dynamic lighting effects accompanied by a score from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Video: Hong Kong Tourism Board

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Have the words 'I'm bored' ever been uttered in Hong Kong? I think not. Not only does this exuberant city never sleep, it doesn't even take a nap. Simple harbour ferry rides provide a dazzling urban landscape, rooftop bars deliver exhilarating harbour views, packed dim sum restaurants are a madness of lip-smacking choice. The shopping is frenetic, and contemporary world culture clashes with Chinese tradition. The city's adrenaline rush, though, is never more apparent than during its many festivals. Here are 10 good reasons to head to Hong Kong in 2018.

FEBRUARY: CELEBRATE NEW YEAR

HONG KONG - FEBRUARY 08:  Performers participate at the 2016 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade on February 8, 2016 in Hong Kong. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day.  (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Photo: Lam Yik Fei

Move over 12 days of Christmas and a New Year's party that lasts one evening. Chinese New Year (www.discoverhongkong.com/au) is a 15-day celebration that erupts in red lanterns and one of the world's most spectacular fireworks displays. Temples swirl with incense, restaurants are loud with the clack of chopsticks, and good-luck flowers provide splashes of market colour. On 16 February, the Year of the Dog is finally ushered in with a night parade in Tsim Sha Tsui featuring costumed characters and illuminated floats.

MARCH: GET ARTY

Basel art Hong Kong.

Art fever takes over Hong Kong in March, with hundreds of exhibitions, fairs and street-arts festivals showcasing local and international artists. Head to the opera or ballet, head-scratch over art installations, or check out the latest arthouse movies. Among the biggest events is the wide-ranging Hong Kong Arts Festival (23 February–24 March; www.hk.artsfestival.org), with nearly 130 performances in music, dance and theatre. Bag a piece of art yourself – or just stickybeak – at Art Basel (29-31 March; www.artbasel.com/hong-kong), when the city's galleries show contemporary artworks.

APRIL: GET SPORTY

Fiji vs Belgium during the HSBC Sevens Wold Series match as part of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium on 28 March 2015 in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano / Power Sport Images

Photo: Power Sport Images

If the art of the rugby scrum is more your thing, then April hosts one of the biggest events on the international rugby calendar. Hong Kong Sevens (6-8 April; www.hksevens.com) sees the world's best teams compete in fast-and-furious 15-minute matches to the roar of 40,000 spectators. You can also watch matches in the sports bars of Lan Kwai Fong or Lockhart Road, where fans' singing and drinking turns into a three-day party. Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong's nightlife epicentre, has over 100 bars.

MAY: HAVE A BUN FIGHT

Cheung Chau, Bun

Take a ferry to Cheung Chau island for a sea-gazing, temple-dotted contrast to the city centre, a tranquil experience except during the lunar Cheung Chau Bun Festival (19-23 May; www.discoverhongkong.com/au), when cymbals clash, drums beat and thousands arrive for a colourful local party. Islanders don traditional costumes and Chinese opera-like makeup, cart around effigies of Chinese gods, unleash lion dances and (momentarily) calm down for tea ceremonies. The highlight is a scramble of competitors up bamboo towers to collect lucky buns.

JUNE: MEET THE DRAGONS

Dragon boat racing, Hong Kong.

What's not to like about three days of races and rippling muscles on spectacular Victoria Harbour during the Dragon Boat Carnival (22-24 June; www.discoverhongkong.com/au)? The biggest boats hold a drummer, steersman and 18 paddlers. Over 160 local and international teams compete to cheering, rock music and – oddly – a fancy-dress competition for good measure. When the summer sun and excitement all becomes too much, there's always a cold beer to hand thanks to the concurrent San Miguel BeerFest, with live entertainment.

AUGUST: HIT THE SALES

Shopping Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is shopping nirvana, but during the Summer Fun period it ramps up with extended evening shopping hours and its most serious sales season, when discounts can exceed 50 per cent. For high-end fashions, antiques and art galleries, hit the districts of Admiralty, Central and SoHo. Family-oriented Cityplaza (www.cityplaza.com) and Design Gallery (www.hkdesigngallery.com) are especially plunder-worthy. For midrange options, Causeway Bay's malls, department stores, boutiques and Fashion Walk (www.fashionwalk.com.hk) provide a full-on retail marathon. You'll also find many specialist stores selling electronics, cosmetics, accessories and shoes.

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SEPTEMBER: GIDDY UP

horse racing

A thunder of hoofs, flash of silk, gallop of horses, roar of the crowd and glittering prizes: horseracing is Hong Kong's most exciting entertainment. This month is the start of the horseracing season, and you'll want to hit Happy Valley on 'Happy Wednesday' evenings and Sha Tin on Saturday or Sunday for a world-class experience at the racetrack and an electric atmosphere. If you want an orientation to horse-racing and betting, and access to the members' enclosure, take a Come Horseracing Tour (www.splendid.hk or www.grayline.com.hk).

OCTOBER: WINE AND DINE

Wine and Dine festival Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is one of the world's great dining cities, whether you're tucking into a bowl of street noodles or Michelin-starred seafood in a posh, harbour-gazing restaurant. It all comes together at the Wine & Dine Festival (25-28 October; www.discoverhongkong.com/au), when some 400 tented stalls from leading Hong Kong chefs and foodies spread along the waterfront promenade, with light-twinkled harbour skyscrapers as a backdrop. Listen to experts and live bands, taste wines and whiskeys, watch fire-eating buskers, and chow down on food from some of Hong Kong's top chefs.

NOVEMBER: LISTEN IN

Clockenflap Hong Kong.

It might sound like an unpleasant ailment, but Hong Kong's three-day, mid-November Clockenflap Music & Arts Festival at Central Harbourfront (9-11 November; www.clockenflap.com) is a lot of fun and rather quirky, featuring the likes of silent discos, movie-concerts, indie acts and big-name live gigs. The line-up hasn't been announced yet for 2018, but last year's headline acts included trip-hop group Massive Attack, electronic-music masters The Prodigy and indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs. Expect anything from pop to death metal, plus a visual and performing arts program too.

DECEMBER: LIGHTEN UP

Winterfest Hong Kong.

Asia's best city for Christmas festivities sees harbour-front skyscrapers and Central streets glitter with decorative lights, and shopping malls erupt in tinsel and trees. The regular Hong Kong Pulse light show on the harbour gets a special Christmas upgrade. It's all part of WinterFest (1 December–1 January; www.discoverhongkong.com/au), in which shops offer special offers and restaurants festive menus, too. Hong Kong Disneyland (hongkongdisneyland.com) gets in on the act as well, with plenty of themed activities and festival lighting. WinterFest culminates with an almighty bang on New Year's Eve with a fabulous New Year Countdown Celebration fireworks and laser show.

For more Hong Kong events and festivals visit www.discoverhongkong.com/au   

This article brought to you by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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