For most people, the annual spectacle of amazing lights with the familiar crackling sounds of fireworks displays greeted the start of the year 2016 in its usual glorious fashion. But for the Chinese, the Year of the Red Monkey is celebrated in February, through modern, authentic practices deeply rooted in tradition and history that truly proclaim Kung Hei Fat Choi.
In Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, celebrating the New Year is more than just a phenomenal social affair with an abundance of food and beverage to last until sunrise, as their celebrations continue to showcase the essential parts as to truly why the rest of the world has come to love the monumental event.
Hong Kong offers a lot more than its countless high-end stores, side-street food havens, and tantalizing night life. As the city turns bright red, its annual Chinese New Year Parade amazes as it transforms into a magical place of lights and sounds. Sacred temples get packed with pilgrims who pray for good fortune, while the festive markets offer only the best finds, ranging from classic to auspicious souvenirs, catering to people’s varying preferences.
Adding to the festive mood are local and international acts, such as the Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show, where electrifying audio-visual effects accompany magnificent lights, projected on the iconic buildings of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. One can also head over to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Square to write well wishes on colorful paper and hang them on the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees. Those who want to try their luck in the New Year can visit Hong Kong’s horse race tracks, but the prestigious Parade of Floats will always be the highlight of the celebration with its picture-perfect fireworks show at the harbor.
Up in the northern part of Taiwan is Pingxi district, home of the famous Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival—a visual treat for those looking to experience a different Chinese New Year. This festival offers a panoramic view of thousands of lanterns floated into the night sky. According to folklore, each glow represents the people’s prayers and the purification of their souls, ultimately promoting the country’s spirit.
Down south, a complementary event takes place in Yanshui’s Beehive Fireworks Festival where thousands of fireworks go off at the same time to resemble thousands of bees streaming out of hives. This festival, another mesmerizing visual event, traces back its roots to the folk and religious tradition of ridding off bad spirits and misfortune in the district.
Both festivities are prominent attractions during Chinese New Year celebrations. More than the stunning view of thousands of lanterns and fireworks that were once unimaginable, the messages that come with these glows and explosions are also gratifying to the soul.
In Beijing, China, young flying acrobats, professional orchestra singers, musicians, and alluring dancers exhibiting traditional performances, are among the headliners of a different way of celebrating the New Year—China’s Lunar New Year Gala Night. In this highly-publicized showcase, millions of people witness various glamorized acts through a variety show broadcasted worldwide.
However, despite its “unconventional” platform, the Gala still speaks of tradition. It is also a celebration of China’s rich cultural history, promoting an appreciation of what has gone and the hopeful anticipation for a prosperous year to come.
Apart from the Gala, a trip to China is not complete without a few other stops in the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, among others.
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