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HometravelWinter in Hong Kong: The city puts on a big show for...

Winter in Hong Kong: The city puts on a big show for families, revellers and explorers

HONG KONG – Think winter holidays and Hong Kong may not immediately come to mind.

The territory’s winter weather is mild – around 20 deg C in December – which is great if you are not partial to the sub-zero temperatures in some wintry destinations.

Hong Kong is also a four-hour direct flight from Singapore, which means you do not have to spend a day or more to get there while contending with jet-lag and fidgety kids. And you can take along the whole family, maximising your holiday dollar.

Travellers will not get a snowy Christmas, of course. However, they may find Hong Kong a cool alternative for a winter vacation.

This winter, the city’s tourism board has strategised to appeal to revenge travellers, now that memories (and fears) of Covid-19 are receding.

For the year-end festive season, the metropolis is putting on a big show, with a multitude of events that will hopefully steer visitors away from the stereotypes of Hong Kong as a city of bright lights, shopping and dim sum.

It has launched WinterFest, which highlights winter-themed events – from a giant Christmas tree display to fireworks shows culminating in the New Year countdown.

Disneyland, Ocean Park and Legoland are amping up the party spirit with Christmas themes, while dining and travel vouchers have been rolled out to sweeten the deal. More details on the festival can be found at str.sg/iYPN.

All of these point to an exciting time, whether travellers are there for a year-end family holiday, planning to usher in 2024 with a big bang or looking for an easy, nearby getaway.

Check out these highlights.

For the family

World of Frozen

If the kids are saying, “What? Disneyland again?”, tell them: “Frozen is in town.”

Hong Kong Disneyland has given its playground an icy twist by bringing in rides and landscapes inspired by the popular Frozen animation films (2013 and 2019). This is the world’s first and largest Frozen-themed land.

The theme park on Lantau Island invites kids to join the princess sisters Anna and Elsa on boat and sleigh rides through the fjords, mountains and bays of the magical kingdom of Arendelle.

Kids and kids at heart can traipse through the Ice Palace, take part in an interactive theatrical show and savour traditional Arendellian cuisine.

Where: Hong Kong DisneylandInfo: str.sg/iYmu

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Le Petit Prince 80th Anniversary Galactic Voyage

Not to be outdone, Ocean Park Hong Kong is celebrating its version of Christmas based on the French story Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), which turns 80 this year. Step into his dreamy universe that features dazzling light displays.

For a double dose of kid-friendly fun, play in both Disneyland and Ocean Park, where more rides and shows await.

Where: Ocean Park Hong KongInfo: str.sg/iYmL

Christmas Town

Christmas trees are dominating the landscape at the Art Park in Kowloon from now till Jan 1, making it a visual treat for both young and old.

You will not miss the sparkling, six-storey-high Christmas tree surrounded by smaller sibling-trees, which will make for great nighttime selfies with Victoria Harbour in the background. But do not forget the obligatory visit to see Santa Claus with the kids.

Where: Harbourside Lawn, West Kowloon Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural DistrictWhen: Till Jan 1Info: str.sg/iYPM

For partygoers

Winter Carnival

The annual year-end extravaganza returns to Kowloon after a hiatus of several years. The carnival includes a circus, a host of rides and games, as well as street performances, food stalls and live entertainment, all happening at the Central Harbourfront.

The carnival is fun not only for party revellers, but also food lovers, families and pop-culture vultures.

Where: Central Harbourfront event space, West Kowloon Cultural DistrictWhen: Dec 21 to Feb 25Info: str.sg/iYPA

Fireworks

The dazzling highlight of WinterFest is a series of fireworks displays that lights up the sky on several evenings through December. Start or end the evening with a glass of wine in hand or the kids in tow.

Make time for the Winter Harbourfront Pyrotechnics show, which will be filled with Christmas motifs.

Where: Catch the display from the Harbourside, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural DistrictWhen: Dec 23, 24, 25 and 26, 8pmInfo: str.sg/iYPW

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New Year Countdown

The city is planning what it says will be the largest New Year’s Eve fireworks display to ring in the new year.

A 12-minute fireworks musical, set against Hong Kong’s iconic skyscrapers, will be accompanied by music and a light show.

Where: Victoria HarbourWhen: Dec 31. A pre-show display of “shooting stars” will take place every 15 minutes from 11pm, culminating in the main display at midnight.Info: str.sg/iYm5

For diners

Hong Kong’s Cantonese cuisine is incomparable, so it would be amiss not to try it while you are there.

But go beyond the siew mai and cheong fun and check out the city’s other dining options – from fine-dining restaurants to happening bars. Some new monetary incentives will sweeten the deal.

Hong Kong Night Treats

One million dining vouchers are up for grabs for visitors to Hong Kong, as part of an all-out effort by its tourism board to get people to explore more of the city’s culinary delights.

Launched in November, the vouchers, which are worth HK$100 (S$17) each, can be used for food and drinks at participating bars and restaurants after 6pm.

Info: str.sg/iYmH

For explorers

If you have been to Hong Kong, you will be familiar with getting around the city on its Mass Transit Railway.

But for once, this is a good time to skip the train and take the bus. There is no better way to see the city’s winterscapes, especially at night and when discounted tickets are being rolled out for a night bus tour.

Night Bus Tour

The city is offering visitors a special deal – an open-top bus night tour for HK$20. From now till January, you can catch a bus on any of three routes after 6pm, which will take you through popular attractions and landmarks on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

The rides last about 60 to 75 minutes.

Info: str.sg/iYmq

Getting there

A number of airlines fly direct from Singapore to Hong Kong, including Singapore Airlines, Scoot and Cathay Pacific.

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