Festivals in Kowloon

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Here's a look at some of the festivals in Kowloon, if you're planning a trip to this area of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Arts Festival

The Hong Kong Arts Festival, in January and February, features an intriguing program of Western and Eastern art. Renowned orchestras, dance companies, drama groups, opera companies and jazz ensembles are invited to perform alongside talented local artists. Traditional Chinese herbs blend with Western cultural fare to create a uniquely Hong Kong arts extravaganza.

The Festival of Hungry Ghosts

The Festival of Hungry Ghosts happens every year on the 15th day of the seventh moon, and is a similar celebration to that of The Day of the Dead in many Central American and South American Nations. The living honor the dead by making them various offerings that range from food to jewels to clothing. The most common of offerings are paper mache items. Several items such as money, food, gifts and puppets are elaborated in paper mache during this time and are available for purchase around the streets of Kowloon. On the last day of this celebration, these items are burnt on the streets, providing a colorful (yet dangerous) spectacle.

Festival of Asian Arts

Another annual arts affair, the Festival of Asian Arts, is sponsored by the Urban Council, which invites artists and performers from various cultural regions in Asia to introduce their indigenous art forms to Hong Kong audiences. During the cultural festival, Hong Kong is represented by groups that perform traditional Cantonese and Peking opera, Cantonese drama, multi-regional Chinese folk dance and music. Also included are performances by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hong Kong Chinese Music Orchestra. This festival is held during October and November.

Cheun Yeung Festival

The Cheung Yeung Festival is observed on the ninth day of the ninth month (in October). This festival is related to a story that has been passed on for many generations. The story took place place during the Han dynasty (206 B.C. to 221 A.D.). According to the story, a gentleman, upon the advice of a wise man, sought to avoid disaster by taking his family and relatives to the top of the mountains for a whole day. Upon returning to his village, the gentleman and his family found that disaster has indeed struck the village, destroying it completely. Nowadays this tradition continues every year. It's become a custom to leave one's home and go off to a higher location around this time in October. Roads up to high places such as Victoria Peak are jammed at this time, as modern day doomsayers follow that ancestor's example.

Free Weekly Chinese Cultural Performances

Chinese operas, puppet shows, dancing and other local cultural fare occur regularly throughout the year, especially during big traditional festivals. There are free weekly Chinese cultural performances sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA). In Kowloon, you can find offices of the HKTA at the Star Ferry Kowloon Concourse (from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily) and at the Empire Center in East Tsimshatsui (weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
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