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Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival turns Hong Kong into an enchanting world of fiery dragons, ancient lanterns and modern light shows! During this ancient Chinese festival, Asia’s world city pays homage to its roots, a bygone era when farmers thanked the moon god for bountiful harvests. In true Hong Kong spirit, age-old tradition and innovation rub shoulders for a fun family week.
In 2013, visitors revelled in the glow of the ‘Rising Moon’, a giant eco-lantern structure. They came face to face with a fiery ancient ritual on the streets of Tai Hang and partied the week away in this modern metropolis with a host of street carnivals.
We hope you enjoyed the week-long moon festivities (and didn't overdo it on the moon cakes). If you missed it this time, no worries - it will be just as good in 2014. In the meantime, there is always something going on in Hong Kong. And anyway, just being here is enough of a reason to celebrate!
- September 2014 (exact date to be confirmed)
In 2013, the ancient passion of the Mid-Autumn Festival received a thoroughly modern Hong Kong makeover for the one2free Lantern Wonderland.
The award-winning centrepiece, Rising Moon, was a spherical playground of light and sound. Ten metres in height, the one-of-a-kind structure had a surface constructed from 7,000 recycled water bottles, with LED bulbs to mimic individual Chinese paper lanterns. The dome used different light effects to imitate the lunar phases.
Rising Moon was the result of a design competition organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and supported by the Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, the Hong Kong Designers Association and The Hong Kong Institute of Architects.
You can expect Asia’s world city to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in 2014 with a similar blending of tradition and innovation. In the meantime, check out photos of Rising Moon.
When the people of Tai Hang village miraculously stopped a plague with a fire dragon dance in the 19th century, they inadvertently launched a tradition that has since become part of China’s official intangible cultural heritage.
Tai Hang may no longer be a village, but its locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual to this day, with a whopping 300 performers, 72,000 incense sticks and a 67-metre dragon. The head of this beast alone weighs 48kg, so it’s not a creature to be taken lightly! The commemorative performance wends its way in fire, smoke and festive fury through the backstreets of Tai Hang over three moon-fuelled days.
Traditional, timeless yet vibrant - this is Hong Kong like you always dreamed it would be.
Hong Kong may flaunt its modernity, but it keeps its traditions very close to its heart. And there’s no better time to see these in action than during the Mid-Autumn Festival, when lanterns reprise their age-old roles and neighbourhoods come together for fire dragon dances, magical lantern exhibitions and carnivals. The grandest of all of these is held Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island each year.
“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart,” says the romantic Chinese poem. These ancient sentiments are still embodied in the way Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival: together, and preferably under the glow of a full moon.
The Chinese have been celebrating this festival since at least the early Tang dynasty (618 – 907). In the past, people would make offerings of alcohol, fruit and other foods to the heavens, to express gratitude for a bumper harvest. The festival is now associated more with lanterns and the eating of moon cakes. Despite the rustic origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the highly-urbanised Hong Kong still celebrates this holiday. In fact, the city celebrates it in style and with its characteristic penchant for fusing tradition with innovation.
Today, to be in Hong Kong during Mid-Autumn is to enjoy a metropolitan manifestation of an ancient harvest festival, complete with fiery dragons, shining lanterns and nouveau festival foods. All across the city, people will be gathering for family meals and enjoying lantern displays and a festival atmosphere in the light of the full moon.
Click on the things to see and do above for a guide to experiencing the charm of this vibrant festival during your stay in Hong Kong.
If you are in Hong Kong during the Mid-Autumn Festival, it will be impossible not to notice moon cakes. They are believed to have originated from Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) revolutionaries, who are said to have used the pastries to pass secret messages between each other.
Traditionally, moon cakes are infused with embedded egg yolks and lotus seed – not exactly a light snack. But this is Hong Kong where nothing is spared a modern makeover. The city serves up an exciting jumble of creative moon cakes in a variety of flavours during the Mid-Autumn Festival (there are even low-sugar options), taking your taste buds on a dizzying tour of snowskin, iced, ice cream, mung bean paste, cheese, chocolate, foie gras, sesame tofu, sweet potato, silky smooth milk tea, black truffle, mango, strawberry and caviar. Enjoy the ride!
You might even notice moon cakes that are shaped to look like they are “mooning” you. The date of Mid-Autumn Festival is often used as a euphemism for “rear end” by Cantonese speakers, providing the inspiration for these, ahem, cheeky versions.
Snowy moon cakes
By the 1980s, there was a growing trend of healthy eating in Hong Kong and people began to seek alternatives to the traditional rich and sweet moon cakes that have been enjoyed by Chinese people for centuries. This is when a recipe for a whole new style of moon cakes emerged in the city – a lighter glutinous rice version of the pastry, called ‘snow skin’. The innovation proved a hit far beyond Hong Kong and has ensured that moon cakes continue to be enjoyed as the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival treat in a world of increasingly sophisticated tastes.
Want to buy some moon cakes? Shop at Quality Tourism Scheme (QTS) accredited shops for extra confidence.