The fireworks display in Hong Kong is a spectacle that is well worth attending if you are visiting during the lunar new year. If you read up much on this online, you will certainly find a fair number of people who are disappointed stating that they are the same as any other fireworks display around the world. Having grown up in a small town in Northern Canada, I can certainly say that not all fireworks are the same. I’ve seen New Years displays which end in five minutes, international fireworks competitions, and even fireworks exploding below me as I watched from the Sears Tower but Hong Kong’s CNY display will always be memorable.
The first decision you will need to make is where you hope to watch the display. This decision will make the difference between watching with Kowloon as your backdrop or Hong Kong island. Many people suggest watching from Tsim Sha Tsui because Hong Kong is the more impressive skyline, however we watched with Kowloon behind and still found it spectacular. At the end of the show the smoke will block the background anyways. A third option to consider when deciding on a location is watching from the bay itself. There are fireworks cruises which allow you to watch the display with both skylines. The cruise ships vary from Junks to more conventional ships but certainly offer a unique way to watch either way. However, if you intend to watch from a boat, be aware that the fireworks cruises book up months in advance. Otherwise you may consider watching from a restaurant or a bar.
If you are hoping to watch the display, be aware that the fireworks do not occur on Chinese New Year (CNY), rather on the day after the Lunar New Year. Fortunately this allows time to get a good spot to watch the parade on CNY and the fireworks the day after. And if you want a good spot, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. There are many places to watch the fireworks for free and showing up early may allow you to find a prime spot where you can actually sit down. So consider packing a book and heading down early.
We watched from Bauhinia Square with the masses. We joined the crowds blocks away and were ushered into the square where we found a good viewing area. Having arrived less than an hour early we weren’t in the prime space up front but still had a great view. The fireworks began and were well choreographed to the Asian pop music blaring from the speakers behind us. To us the crowd was part of the experience and we enjoyed the atmosphere as it made us feel like we were a part of something bigger.
At the end of the day, you can look at the display in two ways. You can watch the rockets shoot into the sky and explode and think about how you’ve seen it before, or you can watch fireworks burst, filling the Hong Kong skyline with light and colour while junks drift across the bay. The Hong Kong CNY fireworks are part of a larger experience which for us was certainly worth attending.