What You Should Know About the Chinese New Year Parade in Hong Kong

While researching Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year (CNY) parade we found some controversy about whether the parade was worth seeing. Having been in attendance, I have to say the parade was probably my favourite part of the trip. Having grown up in a town where a parade meant big trucks honking their horns and maybe some horses, I may not be considered a leading authority when it comes to reviewing parades. However, there were many talented groups and fantastic floats that anyone should find impressive. This was an amazing experience we highly recommend.

The following tips are things we learned on our trip.

  • When is the Chinese New Year parade?

The CNY parade is on Chinese New Year, and in 2019 started at 8:00 pm, make sure to check when it starts before you plan your day. Bear in mind, the listed time is when the parade starts moving, if you are near the end of the route it can take up to an hour to reach your spot, meaning it starts and ends later. If you are wondering when you should go to the CNY parade to get a good spot for photos, we arrived shortly after 5:00 pm and had no issue finding a spot. If you arrive at 6:00 you should be able to find a spot in the front at almost any point along the parade route, after this all bets are off. Fortunately the 2 hours before the parade started there are other performers that entertain the waiting crowds. Arriving at 5:00 we saw each of the performances in the pre-parade twice before the main event began. It does get very crowded so arrive early even if you don’t need to be up front.

  • Where should I watch the parade?

The Parade begins at the Hong Kong cultural center and goes up Kowloon Park road, turns onto Haiphong road, and then follows Nathan road back to the harbour. We watched the parade from the park side of Haiphong road which was very crowded but good viewing, the other side of the road was far less crowded but would be difficult to access once the parade begins.

It is worth noting that when the parade starts, the performers walk until they reach a parade conductor holding a stop sign. Once they reach this sign they stop and perform until they are given the go ahead. The stop point moved throughout the parade but the corners seemed consistent. I would recommend watching on Haiphong road probably about 25-50m from Nathan road. The performers always stopped at the corners so this should allow you to be front and center for most of the action preventing you from being left watching from a distance as we sometimes were.

  • How crowded is the parade?

The parade became extremely crowded where we were standing. At times during the parade goody bags and light sticks were handed out to people in the crowd at random (seemingly less random when you are over 6 ft, blonde, and white considering I was given 2 bags and multiple light sticks which we shared amongst the children sitting at our feet. Sometimes it pays to stand out!), at these times the crowds grew and became a bit pushy. This was more stressful for Rachel as she is a lot smaller than me and with all the jostling was worried she would step on the children that were sent to sit by our feet throughout the parade. In general the crowds in Hong Kong are quite pushy and especially so at the parade when there was free swag at stake. It got to the point where Rachel almost was pushed out of her spot up front during the parade. If you are small or afraid of the crowds, consider standing on the other side so you face the park while watching the parade.

As we were staying on Hong Kong island, we were concerned about how hard it would be to catch transit back after the parade ended. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the crowds actually weren’t bad and we had no difficulty making it back to our hotel.

In the end, the CNY parade was a great experience that I would love to do again one day. There are amazing performances, costumes, and floats. I was excited to go to the event to practice some photography which presented some challenges as a new photographer. We highly recommend that you check out this event if you ever have the opportunity.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

-Ried

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