|by Nicholas DeRenzo||Art + Culture, Festivals, Pop Culture and Travel, China, Hong Kong||8|
Who knew?! Hong Kong’s biggest festival is also one of the cheapest times of the year to visit.
Romance can easily get trampled in frenetic Hong Kong, but February brings out the giddy schoolgirl in this all–business city. It turns out that while the 15–day Chinese New Year festivities start with a firecracker–induced bang, they end on a surprisingly sweet note: the Spring Lantern Festival (February 6, 2012). The festival started as a celebration of the year’s first full moon, featuring multicolored silk or paper lanterns and a menu of sticky rice balls—you know: round, white, and, well, lunar. Over the years, Cupid joined the party. The lanterns, now strung up throughout the city’s parks, provide a dreamy backdrop for strolling singles and their traditional matchmaking games. "As we absorbed other cultures through travel and exposure to the world, we morphed our own festival into a hybrid form of Chinese Valentine’s Day," says Xu Xi, novelist and writer in residence at the City University of Hong Kong. "And why not? Cultures change, but love is universal."
17.5% fewer visitors, compared to December high season.
Dec. 2010 avg. ticket: $1,157
Feb. 2011 avg. ticket: $944
Dec. 2010 avg. daily rate: $187
Feb. 2011 avg. daily rate: $148
Dec. 2010: 93%
Feb. 2011: 85%
The Hong Kong Arts Festival celebrates its 40th year with 166 events, from the Beijing opera to an Oscar Wilde play. Jan. 28–Mar. 8.
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