There’s no peak season in Hong Kong – unless you’re talking about when to head up The Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island offering unparalleled views over the city and Victoria Harbour. The city buzzes all year long with events and seasonal activities, so the best time to visit Hong Kong largely depends on your personal preferences and passions. Why not plan your trip according to what’s on? Here, we highlight what to look forward to each month in Hong Kong.
July – August
While Hong Kong is at its hottest and most humid this time of year, there are plenty of ways for visitors to keep cool. Hitch a ride on a junk boat heading to Clear Water Bay or South Bay and spend the day on the water. Beaches are always a good choice, with Hong Kong Island home to easily accessible sandy shores such as Repulse Bay, with its strip of restaurants and bars, or Big Wave Bay with its scores of surfers. Further afield are stunning Sai Kung and Hong Kong’s longest beach, Cheung Sha on Lantau Island.
There are other positives to hitting Hong Kong at the height of summer: it’s the least crowded time of the year, so there are potentially good deals to be had. And while the temperature may be high, pollution is usually at its lowest, allowing for clearer views. If hiking up to The Peak in the heat doesn’t sound appealing, hop on the Peak Tram instead to take in haze-free panoramas from the top. It’s often particularly clear after the rain, which can be plentiful in late summer. Peak typhoon season is July through September, when severe storms can disrupt plans on short notice.
September – October
As the mercury starts to dip, horse racing returns to Hong Kong following a two-month summer hiatus. At Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday nights from September, bets are placed amid a party atmosphere with food, drinks and live entertainment between races. On Sundays and some Saturdays, afternoon races are held across town at Sha Tin Racecourse.
It’s also time for Mid-Autumn Festival, one of Hong Kong’s most important traditional celebrations. The holiday is marked with lantern displays – the one at Victoria Park is particularly impressive – and mooncakes, which are pastries traditionally filled with egg yolk and lotus seed paste but also available in more contemporary flavours like chocolate. The neighbourhood of Tai Hang presents its distinctive Fire Dragon Dance, a must-see street performance featuring a dragon made of incense sticks.
National Day takes place on 1 October, which means a public holiday in Hong Kong and another spectacular fireworks display over Victoria Harbour. The Chinese mainland has the whole week off, making it a busy time for the city with more holiday travellers arriving.
October brings more sporting action with the New World Harbour Race, in which competitors swim from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, and the Hong Kong Tennis Open, where world-class players face off for singles and doubles tournament titles on the blue hard court of Victoria Park Tennis Stadium.
For those seeking Halloween fun, Hong Kong goes all out. Thousands of partygoers descend on the bars of Lan Kwai Fong decked out in fancy dress, while at Ocean Park ghosts and ghouls turn up for the amusement park’s annual Halloween Fest.
November – December
November temperatures remain warm but the humidity drops, making it a prime time to embrace the outdoors. It marks the return of the Hong Kong Open, an annual golf tournament held since 1959, featuring a star-studded field of competitors. Meanwhile, the trail-running season kicks off in Hong Kong’s country parks.
Several events on the Central Harbourfront make the most of the weather, including the Wine and Dine Festival in early November and the Great European Carnival that starts in December. There’s also Clockenflap, the annual music and arts festival that holds a special place in many Hongkongers’ hearts. It’s a homegrown event that brings local, regional and international acts to the city each November for three days of live music, art installations, food and fun.
Note: the Affordable Art Fair has been rescheduled to 10-13 December 2020
As Christmas approaches, the city dons festive decorations – shopping malls seemingly compete to out-do each other with large, interactive displays – and puts on seasonal shows like the Hong Kong Ballet’s Nutcracker. The holiday can be a mellow time in Hong Kong, as many residents travel overseas, and the weather often remains warm and dry right through to New Year’s Eve, when parties across the city lead up to yet another fantastic display of fireworks at midnight.
Note: as of publication, events are expected to take place as normally scheduled in 2021
January – February
Each year starts with a bang in Hong Kong. Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) usually falls in late January or early February and features flowers, festivities and fireworks. In the run-up to the holiday, the Chinese New Year Flower Market in Victoria Park is filled with auspicious plants, traditional foods and zodiac animal-themed gifts.
On Lunar New Year’s Day, the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade typically features a progression of floats and live performers along the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront, where there’s also a festive lantern display. Fireworks over the harbour mark the second day of the festival, with special menus on offer at restaurants and bars boasting views of the display. On the third day, the action moves to Sha Tin Racecourse for a special horse-racing event, and the days following see lion and dragon dances taking place all over town.
Outside these celebrations, Hong Kong is quieter than usual, as many locals travel while street markets and stalls close for the three-day holiday. So head for the great outdoors and explore some of Hong Kong’s popular hiking trails. Given the holiday, Lunar New Year can mean less pollution, while the weather is pleasantly cool and usually sunny.
March – April
March is art month in Hong Kong. Leading international fair Art Basel brings some of the finest modern and contemporary art to the city, with Art Central and the Asia Contemporary Art Show adding striking collections to the mix. Meanwhile, galleries across the city host some of their biggest exhibitions of the year, and there are parties and events galore for the art crowd.
It’s not just visual arts either: the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which begins in late February and runs through to the end of March, explores theatre, dance and music from around the world; the Hong Kong International Film Festival brings new works to the big screen; and electronic music festival Sónar takes to the stage.
The beginning of spring heralds the return of the annual Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, the city’s biggest sports event and a highlight of the World Rugby Sevens Series. Rugby fans and revellers in flamboyant fancy dress descend on Hong Kong Stadium in late March or early April for a spirited weekend of action on the field and partying in the stands.
May – June
Things start to heat up with quintessential Hong Kong festivals. The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a one-of-a-kind celebration held on the outlying island of Cheung Chau, usually in early May. Its centrepiece is a competition in which local contenders scramble up a bamboo tower covered with imitation ‘lucky’ buns, trying to grab as many as possible.
The Dragon Boat Festival takes place in June, with races held at waterfront locations around the city. Teams of rowers battle it out in long dragon boats, paddling to the beat of a drummer sitting in the bow.