Being an island city with a colonial past, Hong Kong comes with many public holidays reflective of both Chinese and Western cultures. The perk is you get the best of both worlds! From Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival to Easter and Christmas Day, here’s a comprehensive rundown of all Hong Kong public holidays. Find out their fascinating histories and how they are celebrated!
New Year’s Day
Like the rest of the world, Hong Kong’s celebrations of New Year’s Day begin with a bang on New Year’s Eve, with countdown events all over the city. The most highly anticipated event is at Victoria Harbour, where music, dance and multimedia performances can be viewed, along with extravagant displays of fireworks.
When: Sunday, 1 January 2023
Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is the largest and most important Chinese festival in Hong Kong. To herald in the new year, Hong Kongers celebrate with a mix of both contemporary and ancient customs. One of the highlights is the Chinese New Year parade, attracting tens of thousands of visitors per year. Dragon performances, colourful floats, and traditional Chinese dance are featured every year. Besides that, there are also annual fireworks over the iconic Victoria Harbour and horse races at Sha Tin Racecourse to commemorate the auspicious occasion.
When: 22 to 25 January 2023
Ching Ming Festival
Also known as “Grave Sweeping Day” and “Remembrance of Ancestors Day”, Ching Ming Festival is a time for people in Hong Kong to pay respect to their ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. They may bring paper money, incense and joss sticks to the grave sites and tidy up the surroundings. The festival is believed to have originated from Ancient China, and is also widely practiced in mainland China today.
When: Wednesday, 5 April 2023
The day commemorating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Good Friday is observed as a day of mourning by the Christian community. Special Good Friday church services may involve a meditation on Jesus’s suffering and the significance of his death on the cross. Most church services tend to be held in the afternoon, in remembrance of the final hours Jesus was nailed on the cross. Some Christians may also participate in the Veneration of the Cross, where they kneel before the cross to show devotion to their faith.
When: Friday, 7 April 2023
Following Good Friday, Easter is widely celebrated in Hong Kong as part of the British legacy. While Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the general public may also participate in fun Easter activities such as painting and decorating Easter eggs, and giving out Easter chocolates in the shape of eggs or bunnies. As eggs represent life, fertility and rebirth, they are often offered to loved ones as gifts for well wishes.
When: Monday, 10 April 2023
Also known as International Workers’ Day, Labour Day is celebrated in Hong Kong to recognise the achievement of workers. Unions and other organisations may gather and march together in parades to champion workers’ rights. Additionally, some people gift May flowers to loved ones.
When: Monday, 1 May 2023
Birthday of Buddha
This national holiday is also termed Lord Buddha’s Birthday and the Buddha Bathing Festival. In celebration of Buddha’s birthday, lanterns are lit to symbolise enlightenment, and masses visit the temple to pay respect. A prominent event associated with this festival is the bathing of statues of Buddha in the city.
When: Friday, 26 May 2023
Tuen Ng Festival
The legendary Tuen Ng or Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated with exciting dragon boat races and flavourful rice dumplings. The festival was said to have originated from the legend of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet of the ancient State of Chu who drowned himself in a river after his homeland was taken over by enemy troops. Locals raced out on boats and dropped rice dumplings into the river so the fish would not feed on the poet, beginning the traditions that we know today.
When: Thursday, 22 June 2023
HKSAR Establishment Day
Formally the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, this holiday celebrates the handover of Hong Kong back to China after 100 years of British colonial rule in 1997. Military parades are usually held during this time, along with fireworks over Victoria Harbour.
When: Saturday, 1 July 2023
Perhaps the most popular Chinese festival after Lunar New Year, the Mid-Autumn festival is widely celebrated by families. Originating from the legend of Chang’e, a woman who flew to the moon after consuming an elixir of immortality, it now symbolises reunion with one’s family during the full moon phase. Hong Kongers celebrate the occasion by hanging traditional Chinese lanterns, going to carnivals and parades, and enjoying tasty mooncakes. Kung fu performances and folk music are also common entertainment during this time.
When: Friday, 29 September 2023
Hong Kong has celebrated Chinese National Day since its handover back to China in 1997, commemorating the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Festivities include a host of events such as the Flag Raising ceremony, and spectacular firework displays over Victoria Harbour.
When: Sunday, 1 October 2023
Chung Yeung Festival
Directly translated to Double Ninth Festival, this is a day of ancestral memorial. It’s typically celebrated by hiking, flying kites and visiting of ancestral graves with the family. Visitors may go to family tombs with paper offerings and food like rice and roasted pork to pay their respects. Chung Yeung is also a time to show concern for one’s elders and recognise their contribution to society.
When: Monday, 23 October 2023
As with many other countries around the world, Hong Kong celebrates Christmas Day with grand festivities. We also get to enjoy a three-day break! Major seasonal events include the Hong Kong ballet Nutcracker performance, family-friendly Christmas fun in Disneyland, the Winterfest, Hong Kong Symphony of Lights and International Light Art Display, among others. It’s reputably one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in East Asia.
When: Monday, 25 December 2023
For updates on Hong Kong’s public holidays by year, visit https://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/holiday/.
Read more about Hong Kong’s public holiday celebrations and festivals here.