A Variety Of Exciting Events and a New Tour Await Visitors to Hong Kong

Fall approaches and with it comes an exciting time in Hong Kong; a time of festivals, sporting and cultural events and the launch of a new tour. One of the highlights of this time of the year is the Mid-Autumn Festival, sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival. It occurs every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon which, in this year, means 25 September. It is one of the most delightful Chinese festivals.

It commemorates a 14th century uprising against the Mongols when, in a cunning plan, notes calling for a rebellion were embedded in cakes which were then smuggled to compatriots. The special sweet cakes, known as Moon Cakes, still feature in this festival today, along with colorful Chinese paper lanterns in the shape of various animals or, in tune with more modern times, planes and space ships.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a family occasion, when parents and children make their way to vantage points such as The Peak or to public parks which are always ablaze with the lanterns. The spectacle is enjoyed by all – locals and visitors alike – as everyone enjoys their Moon Cakes while watching the region lit with lanterns with the full autumn moon rising over all. The Festival is also a time of games, palm-readings, roving artistic performances and lantern display.

This is also the time of the Fire Dragon Dance in Tai Hang, close to Causeway Bay, which will take place from 24 – 26 September. Again the origin is historical: over a century ago Tai Hang was a small village whose inhabitants lived off farming. Disaster struck in the form of a typhoon, then a plague and then came a livestock-eating python. Some thought the python was the son of the Dragon King. They made a fire dragon, they lit firecrackers and they danced for three days and three nights until the Dragon King was appeased and all their misfortunes disappeared.

Culture is next on the agenda this fall. On 14 September Treasures of the World’s Cultures from the British Museum will be unveiled at the Hong Kong Museum of Art and will remain on view until 2 December. This collection features some 250 artefacts from five continents: sculptures, paintings, jewelery, porcelain and stone items, some dating back more than two million years. “The Great Reunion” Cantonese Opera Series – the Theatrical Legacy of the Tang Dynasty is another major cultural event scheduled for this fall (26 September – 9 October). Both these events are part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Program.

September 2007 will also be the month of the International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament (15 – 16 September). A team will be arriving from Canada and they will join other international teams and three local groups, making a total of eight teams. This tournament was first launched in 2003 and has since become a popular sports event, creating friendly international exchange and increasing awareness of the sport in Hong Kong. The venue of the games will be the mega box in Kowloon Bay and admission is free to all.

Then, towards the end of the year, the nine-hole Skycity Nine Eagles Golf Course will open adjacent to the Hong Kong International Airport. The course is intended for the enjoyment of passengers, visitors and the airport community and will provide a unique airport experience with its attractive course, equipment rental, luggage storage, club house, restaurant and pro-shop facilities as well as lighting for night-time golf.

Hong Kong has not forgotten those who love to enjoy the great outdoors. Due to be launched in September is the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) 6.5-hour Northeast New Territories Island Hopping Tour. The Northeast New Territories is a hidden treasure that can only be accessed by sea. A scenic boat trip will take participants from Sha Tin east across Tolo Harbour and through a narrow waterway to Yan Chau Tong Marine Park, with stops for fascinating shore excursions. All will enjoy beautiful vistas of verdant hills, uninhabited islands, rocky headlands and soaring cliffs along an unspoilt coastline. First stop will be Lai Chi Wo – a Hakka walled village – where a nature trail lined with century-old trees with branches coiled along the ground will amaze visitors. It’s an incredible natural wonder so close to urban Hong Kong. The boat will then proceed to Crooked Island (Kat O) where the islanders’ living culture can be discovered with visits to a century-old Tin Hau Temple and an ancient banyan tree – the tree of love. Last stop is Grass Island (Tap Mun), famous for its traditional fish farms. From the highest point of the island visitors can enjoy a super view over the island towards the South China Sea beyond. A light lunch will be served in one of the simple but appealing village restaurants here.

Festival lovers, culture mavens, sports and outdoors enthusiasts will all find exciting events in the coming months. There’s no doubt about it, Fall is a great time to be in Hong Kong!