Creative, traditional, colorful... They have invaded the streets of Hong Kong. It's that time of the year the city lights up with beautiful lanterns. Every year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is held the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month -around Sept. - October. Families gather together at night, enjoying the Moon which is the closest and largest of the year.
Although Hong Kong was under British colonial rule for 100 years, the city kept its Chinese traditions and habits in the blood, and that's what makes it so special. Mid Autumn Festival is one of the most charming and colorful events celebrated in HK. The Festival features a broad array of celebrations, including huge thematic lantern displays and carnivals, as well as various cultural shows and performances.
With the temperature cooling down, the blue sky and the festivities, mid-autumn is the perfect moment to visit Hong Kong. If you were waiting for an occasion to explore the 852, here it is...
According to Chinese culture, a full Moon symbolises peace, prosperity, and family reunion. Legend has it that on Mid Autumn Festival night, the Moon will be the brightest and fullest, which is why the festival is also known as the "Day of Reunion" and "Moon Festival".
How to celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival in HK?
1|Go lantern shopping or do it yourself
Lantern shopping is fun and tricky: there is sooo much choice in markets and shops all over Hong Kong, it's hard to chose the one! Seek it local and go for the old Chinese lantern shops on Queen's Road West in Sheung Wan. The large carp-shaped ones with flowing golden tails are gorgeous -my favorites! Prices start at HKD3, so if you can't chose... take them all! And if you feel like creative, you can also make your own paper lantern.
2|Become a mooncake master... and treat yourself
The Mid Autumn Festival is a time to worship the Moon -part of it involves making offerings to, and eating mooncakes. The filling in these treats varies, though they commonly include ingredients such as egg yolk, lotus seed, sesame seed, red bean and dates. This year, I made my own Snowy Mooncakes at the S6nses Cooking Studio*! Chef Max taught me how to make the paste, the filling, and to give them their beautiful shape. It's a true delicacy!
3|ENJOY SPECTACULAR LANTERN DISPLAYS in Hong Kong's parks
Magical Lantern Exhibitions are held in Victoria Park, Sha Tin Park and Tsing Yi Park, featuring thousands of gorgeous displays, with a centerpiece chosen based on a design competition. The theme in Victoria Park was The Luminous Scenes of Old Hong Kong -it means neons light signboards, dragon and lion dance lanterns and screenings of Cantonese movies in the 50-60's. Lovely! Tip: come during the week to avoid the crowds.
4|LIGHT UP YOUR LANTERN & GATHER WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY
You're all set -it's time to light up your lantern and dangle them under the moonlight now! Lanterns are a big part of celebrating Mid Autumn Festival in Hong Kong. Traditionally, they were cylindrical in shape, but nowadays they come in every shape and cartoon character you think of -yes, included our old mate Pikachu!
5|Enjoy the legendary Fire Dragon Dance
This is the highlight of the Festival : a tradition unique to Hong Kong in which performers recreate a giant fire dragon using incense sticks -hence the fire dragon! Back in time, the dance was performed to chase away the bad luck from the village. Today, this tradition is still listed as one of China's intangible cultural heritages. It takes nearly 300 performers and over 70,000 incense sticks to put on a three-day performance with a 67 meters dragon.
6|Spot Chang'e from a rooftop
Every Mid-Autumn Festival, children gaze at the moon in hopes of catching a glimpse of Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit gliding across its surface. Moon-watching can be done anywhere -from the Peak, on a quiet beach or... on one of Hong Kong's numerous rooftop bars, with a glass of wine in your hand -yes... that would be my option!