‘Oh, the weather outside is frightful,’ sang regular Hong Kong visitor Frank Sinatra, but probably not about the Hong Kong climate. December is one of the territory’s loveliest months: low humidity and balmy days. The last time it snowed (a flake or two in the New Territories) was in 1975.
It hasn’t hit 0°C since 1893.
But when has that ever stopped us having a traditional Christmas?
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by visiting the Christmas tree trussed up in Central’s Statue Square (part of the month-long WinterFest) or ride the Star Ferry at night to see the Victoria Harbour skyscrapers decked out in illuminated Santa sleds and holly. In Tsim Sha Tsui, there’s the Peninsula’s gargantuan Christmas tree to gawp at.
In Stanley, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with a Finland-themed Christmas market – expect live music, gifts and delicacies like leipäjuusto (baked cheese), pickled herring and some of the world’s purest vodka.
Tchaikovsky’s Christmassy ballet – The Nutcracker – is performed by HK Ballet this month, at the Cultural Centre (15-26 December); where the HK Phil also puts on musical Christmas (23-24 December) celebrations.
It isn’t exactly ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire,’ but you can find mini mince pies
at PMQ’s Aberdeen Street Social, bourbon eggnog at Pacific Place’s Commissary, cinnamon drinks at Wan Chai’s The Optimist and Balinese-style rum punch at Potato Head in Sai Ying Pun. And then there’s the Sh*t Knit party, every Wednesday in December at Sheung Wan’s 208 Duecento Otto. Come along, wear your worst Christmas jumper, listen to the Now That’s What I Call Christmas! compilation and you might win a magnum of Veuve Clicquot.
Not Driving Home for Christmas? One colleague swears by the Mandarin Oriental’s takeaway turkey, while Classified’s Christmas hampers – which include gingerbread, mulled wine mix and mince pies – will also warm bellies.
And if it all goes a bit Last Christmas, there are still options: Zuma’s mulled wine, oysters and roasted turkey brunch on Christmas Day, or a giant party in Lan Kwai Fong on Christmas Eve. One thing’s for sure: it likely won’t be a White Christmas.
Jan – Feb: Hotspring Season, Changbai Mountain, China
Go for a hot dip in the natural spring waters of Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve in Jilin Province and take in the surrounding snow-covered hills and forests.
Jan 15 – Jan 21: Ati-Atihan Festival, Kalibo, Philippines
Kalibo, in central Philippines, is the home of one of the country’s most vibrant traditional festivals, which honours baby Jesus and features colourful parades and faith healing.
Jan 26 – Jan 28: Japan Brewers’ Cup, Yokohama, Japan
This brewing competition, judged by industry experts, is also a festival for the public, with 250 varieties of beer on offer from more than 30 Japanese craft breweries. japanbrewerscup.jp
Feb 9 – Feb 25: 2018 Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea
The Winter Olympics come to Asia for the first time since 1998 (Nagano, Japan), firmly establishing South Korea as a world-class area for skiing and other winter sports. olympic.org