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 January 16, 2007
Chinese New Year Celebrations & Events In Hong Kong

 The celebrations surrounding the arrival of the Chinese New Year are considered by many to be Hong Kong's most colourful and exciting. And the arrival of the Year of Pig on 18 February 2007 will not disappoint. It's a festival like no other -- full of ancient traditions and cultures combined with stunning lighting effects and fireworks. In fact, the festivities run from 12 to 28 February, days when families, friends and visitors alike gather to celebrate with special foods, flowers, shopping, lights, a fabulous parade and a spectacular fireworks display.

Throughout the festival, the Symphony of Lights delights everyone. This dazzling multi-media extravaganza has been judged by Guinness World Records as the largest permanent light and sound show in the world. It involves more than 30 spectacular buildings on both sides of the harbour that are transformed nightly into a giant stage in a memorable sound and light show.

The highlight of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is often hotly debated. Is it the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade or the Lunar New Year Fireworks display? Those fortunate enough to be in Hong Kong on Sunday 18 February and Monday 19 February can judge for themselves. Sunday is the day for the Night Parade, an extravaganza of magnificently decorated floats, bejewelled costumes, marching bands, multi-cultural performances, talented dancers and acrobats and, of course, the ever-popular lion and dragon dancers. All make their way through Tsim Sha Tsui as spectators line the route or wave from every available window.

Then on Monday the city will be lit by the Lunar New Year Fireworks: a dazzling display of computer-controlled pyrotechnics, with it incomparable backdrop of city lights and sparkling harbour reflections, all framed by the surrounding mountains.

A quieter feature of the festival are the exquisite traditional flower markets that over the Chinese New Year are packed with people buying lucky or auspicious flowers and plants for their homes and offices. The flower markets are a riot of colours and scents and are on everybody's list of things to experience when they come to Hong Kong at Chinese New Year. (Especially, need we say, photographers!) Also worth a visit at this time, for some quiet contemplation, are some of the temples around town where people make pilgrimages at Chinese New Year to give thanks for the past 12 months and pray for good fortune in the coming year.

Sports enthusiasts are not forgotten during the festival either. The first horseracing day of the Chinese New Year is always popular as racing fans get a feel for their luck in the coming year. And then there's one of the sporting highlights of the year: the Chinese New Year International Soccer Tournament, when a select Hong Kong side confronts some of the soccer powerhouses of the world. It's always a thrilling climax to the Chinese New Year holiday!

Of course, during these fun-filled days, shoppers and gourmets are not forgotten. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time to "throw out the old and bring in the new" and in Hong Kong, where people love to shop, it's a great excuse to do just that and find a bargain or an extravagant treat for the wardrobe or the home! Eating, too, is of high priority all year in Hong Kong, but especially so at New Year. So throughout the festival, this 'Culinary Capital of Asia' will be featuring all sorts of taste delights: Chinese food, Asian or European cuisine or fusion food. There's a restaurant to satisfy every culinary whim in Hong Kong.

And once it's all over, there's no chance of after-party "blues". That's because in March the city will be revving up for two exciting sporting events. The first takes place on 4 March. That's the day when tens of thousands of local and overseas long-distance runners take to Hong Kong's roads for the city's biggest outdoor sporting event -- the Hong Kong Marathon 2007. This, the final leg of the Greatest Race of Earth, attracts many of the world's top marathoners, who are competing for over US$1 million in prize money. No need to mention the competition is fierce! Last year 39,000 runners took part in their choice of the full marathon, the half marathon or the 10 km run, all over courses that take participants past some of Hong Kong's most splendid scenery.

Later in the month (30 March -- 1 April) it's a team sport that takes centre stage -- the renowned tournament known as the Hong Kong Sevens. This seven-a-side rugby competition involves 24 of the world's top teams. They and their legions of fans descend upon the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium for thrill-a-minute action on the pitch and the party atmosphere that reigns in the stands throughout the three-day event. England took the top honours in 2006. Who will be the next champions?

For those who like their entertainment to be of the cultural variety, the Hong Kong Arts Festival (27 February -- 25 March 2007) is sure to deliver in 2007, the year the festival celebrates its 35th anniversary. This dazzling array of performing arts from all over the world will ensure that Hong Kong lives up to its reputation as the 'Events Capital of Asia'. The line up in 2007 includes the Welsh National Opera performing Puccini's La Bohéme, the Jiangsu Province Kunqu Opera presenting a unique revival of the 1699 Ming Dynasty drama The Peach Blossom Fan and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra performing some of the finest Russian classics. Jazz and World Music fans will be delighted by the Chucho Valdés Quartet, by Julia Migenes and by the 26-member Soweto Gospel Choir. Dance is on the programme too, with Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan performing Sacred Monsters and Tango Buenos Aires sharing their passions, while theatre-lovers will have plays by Shakespeare and Tim Robbins to choose from. Even circus lovers are catered to, with Feria Musica -- the renowned Belgian circus-theatre company -- that will perform acrobatic wonders in Vertige du Papillon (Butterfly Dreams).

www.DiscoverHongKong.com