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Arts by the harbour — dive into a world of international arts

Time Out Hong Kong
  • Written by Time Out Hong Kong
Arts by the harbour

If there’s one thing about Hong Kong that’s more iconic than anything else, it would be Victoria Harbour. As tightly squeezed as it may be, our glistening waterfront consists of more than just office towers and shopping centres. It also plays host to innovative art institutions, architectural gems, and international art events. Not sure where to look? Follow this route to some of the most interesting art and cultural hubs along the harbour and kick-off your journey as a bona fide culture vulture.

Adeline Ooi, Director Asia of Art Basel

From the one-of-a-kind architecture of Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Xiqu Centre to beloved tourist attractions such as the Avenue of Stars, the art hubs that line both sides of Victoria Harbour are a captivating sight to behold and beloved by overseas visitors. Add to that the glamorous international annual events, such as Art Central and Art Basel, that bring world-class artworks to our shores, it’s easy to see why Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s leading art hub is firmly cemented.

Born in Basel, Switzerland in the 1970s, Art Basel is one of Hong Kong’s most highly regarded art events. The large-scale art fair is held every year in its hometown and in Miami Beach, arriving in Hong Kong in 2013 for its debut in Asia. "For most of us in Asia, everybody looks to Hong Kong as a great city that we all want to be in," says Adeline Ooi, Director Asia of Art Basel. According to Ooi, Hong Kong’s inherent attributes and East-meets-West culture make the city an ideal location.

Born in Malaysia, Ooi started out as Art Basel's VIP relations manager for Southeast Asia before she was appointed to her current role in 2014. Having lived in Hong Kong for many years, Ooi sees past the city’s ‘concrete jungle’ perception. Whether it’s the bustling sounds and textures of the city, or the sweeping views of Victoria Harbour from Lugard Road on Victoria Peak, there is so much to love about Hong Kong. “The possibilities are endless here,” she enthuses. Ooi recommends looking beyond international fairs to discover creative spaces such as the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA), where art lovers can get to know the stories of Hong Kong through a diverse array of artworks, while soaking in the splendid views of the harbour.

In this rapidly-changing world that we live in, Ooi has observed the art community quickly adapting to the many challenges and difficulties it faces. The power of art often inspires and brings positive energy, so take a stroll along both sides of our beautiful Victoria Harbour and make time for a touch of artistic healing.

Hong Kong Arts Centre

Stop 1: Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) 

Established in 1977, the Hong Kong Arts Centre plays host to a variety of artistic events including live performances, movie screenings, and art exhibitions by local and international artists. Don’t forget to check out the art shop at HKAC, which offers beautiful art pieces by local artists ranging from handcrafted ceramics and accessories to books, paintings, and much more.

Ani-com Park@Harbour“Fun”

Stop 2: Ani-com Park@Harbour“Fun” 

A lesser-known landmark in Wan Chai, the Ani-Com Park@Harbour“FUN” is a selfie-themed art park that aims to promote the Hong Kong comics and animation industry to all locals and tourists alike. With life-size sculptures of Hong Kong’s most iconic animation and comic characters spread across the park, visitors can learn about the characters and the artists behind each one via an info panel on-site or by downloading the park’s interactive mobile app. Aside from artist profiles, the app also features an AR photo function, which you can access by scanning the QR code next to each sculpture, and a facial capture function that will instantly transform you into one of the ani-com characters when taking selfies!

Wan Chai Waterfront Promenade

Stop 3: Wan Chai Waterfront Promenade 

Wan Chai Waterfront Promenade has become one of the city’s newest Insta-worthy hotspots thanks to home-grown artist Prudence Mak. The newly refurbished promenade features a series of fun paintings, floor murals, and a large-scale inflatable installation under the theme of ‘Chocolate Rain’, a cartoon design inspired by childhood dreams and adventures. The artworks also double up as different childhood games like hopscotch and mazes, encouraging the public to not only view the art but also play, interact, and create special memories from it. In addition to artworks by Mak, selected works from the Harbourfront Public Furniture Competition can also be found at the Pierside Precinct near Wan Chai Ferry Pier.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Stop 4: Hong Kong Cultural Centre 

The Hong Kong Cultural Centre and adjacent historic clock tower are tourist favourites for capturing photos of Victoria Harbour. Built in 1989, the curved and concave shaped building is the go-to venue for international touring theatre shows, world-class concerts, operas, and live performances.

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Stop 5: Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) 

After four long years of renovations, the Hong Kong Museum of Art reopened its doors to the public in 2019 with a sleek new look and upgraded facilities. Admire the museum from the outside where the ripple effect of the building facade echoes the waves of Victoria Harbour.

Avenue of Stars

Stop 6: Avenue of Stars

Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Avenue of Stars pays tribute to some of the city’s most illustrious names in the film industry. Grab a selfie with sculptures of cinematic icons by the waterfront — even the beloved local cartoon character McDull has a prime spot in front of the Victoria Harbour skyline — and discover over 100 celebrity handprints on the boardwalk’s wooden railings. While you’re there, learn more about each film icon by scanning the QR codes from each set of prints to read the artists’ bios or watch selected clips from their films.

Xiqu Centre

Stop 7: Xiqu Centre

A premier performing arts venue dedicated to promoting and celebrating the art form and rich heritage of xiqu, or Chinese opera, Xiqu Centre houses two theatres, four professional studios, a seminar hall and a souvenir shop, as well as restaurants and cafes. Head to the Tea House Theatre for an experience with short excerpts of Chinese classical music, or relax in the atrium where regular events such as exhibitions, music performances, and xiqu demonstrations are held. Even the building itself is a marvel on its own. The striking architecture, designed by Revery Architecture and Ronald Lu & Partners, was inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns, while the main entrance is shaped to resemble parted stage curtains.

West Kowloon Cultural District

Stop 8: West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD)

Sitting prominently along the waterfront, WKCD offers vast green spaces and ample vantage points of Victoria Harbour. It’s a prime cultural destination where visitors can enjoy various contemporary art performances at Freespace and take part in different art and cultural events at the Art Park. Of course, there are plenty of Instagrammable spots too. Take a photo of the beautiful sunset by the waterfront with an unobstructed view of the skyline, or check out the 35-metre-long mural by local artist Calvin Ho (@AtomicAttack). Located just outside Freespace, the mural consists of over 25 quirky characters, ranging from aquatic centaurs to mushroom people to extra-terrestrial beings.


Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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