Chinese New Year, January/February
Birthday of Tin Hau, April/May
Cheung Chau Bun Festival, April/May
Dragon Boat Festival, May/June
Hungry Ghost Festival, August
The marquee of clammy clouds may seal up the city in perfect hibernation mode, but nothing can dampen the spirits around Chinese New Year, the most important festival on the cultural calendar.
Chinese New Year
Vast flower markets herald the beginning of this best-loved Chinese festival. Wear red and be blessed at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. Then find a spot by Victoria Harbour (or failing that, a TV) and be awed by fireworks.
Spring Lantern Festival
Lovers are the focus as colourful lanterns glowing under the first full moon of the lunar year mark the end of New Year celebrations, and a day known as Chinese Valentine's Day.
Hong Kong Arts Festival
Lasting five to eight weeks, Hong Kong’s premier cultural event scintillates with a feast of music and performing arts, ranging from classical to contemporary, by hundreds of local and international talents.
Hong Kong Marathon
Around 70,000 athletes compete in this top Asian marathon. The annual event also includes a half-marathon, a 10km race and a wheelchair race.
Rain and warm weather return, triggering the whirr of dehumidifiers in every home and office – as flowers and umbrellas bloom across the city.
‘Beat the Little Man’
Witness folk sorcery performed by rent-a-curse grannies under the Canal Rd Flyover in Wan Chai or at Yau Ma Tei’s Tin Hau Temple. Rapping curses, they pound cut-outs of clients' enemies with a shoe.
Hong Kong International Film Festival
One of Asia's top film festivals, the four-decade-old HKIFF screens the latest art-house and award-winning movies from Asia and around the world. Timing straddles Easter each year.
Hong Kong Flower Show
For approximately 10 days, Victoria Park turns into a colourful sea of fragrant floral displays as horticulturalists from over 20 countries experiment with their green fingers.
Hong Kong becomes the epicentre of the international art world for three days as the world's top art fair takes the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre by storm.
Hong Kong Sevens
Hong Kong’s most famous sporting event – and probably its most original. The Rugby Sevens was invented here in 1975 and the eternally popular tournament promises fierce competition, as well as a reliable glut of carnivalesque partying from the fans.
Birthday of Tin Hau
A festival dedicated to the patroness of fisherfolk and one of the harbour city’s most popular deities. Key celebrations include a colourful float parade in Yuen Long and traditional rites at the ‘Big Temple’ in Joss House Bay. It falls on the 23rd day of the third lunar month.
The city steams up, especially in the urban areas, as the long summer months begin. The first heavy showers of the year cleanse the air as religious celebrations heat up the mood.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
This unique, weeklong festival on Cheung Chau climaxes on Buddha’s birthday when children ‘float’ through the island’s narrow lanes dressed up as mythological characters and modern-day politicians, while the more daring townsfolk scramble up bun-studded towers at midnight.
Devotees stream to Buddhist monasteries and temples all over the territory on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month to pray to the revered founder of Buddhism and bathe his likenesses with scented water.
Le French May
Misleadingly named, this celebration of all things Gallic often starts in April and ends in June – so much the better, as it returns with a rich arts program of consistently high quality, plus the obligatory fine food and wine.
The heavens are truly open, the mercury spikes and strong air-conditioning switches on citywide to soothe the nerves of locals and visitors alike.
Dragon Boat Festival
Thousands of the world's strongest dragon-boaters meet in Hong Kong over three days of intense racing and partying at Victoria Harbour, while smaller but equally heart-stopping races happen in waterways all over the city.
Seven million souls palpitate and perspire in the sweltering heat. Torrential downpours are common but there is always a sun-toasted beach near you in this sprawling archipelago of 260-plus islands.
Hungry Ghost Festival
Restless spirits take leave from hell to roam the earth during the seventh moon. Hell money, food and earthly luxuries made of papier mâché are burned to propitiate the visitors. Fascinating folk traditions come alive across the city. It falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month.
Good old summer lingers but the humidity factor starts to recede. Stay close to the ocean coastlines for free respite as school kids swap their buckets and spades for mighty dunes of homework.
Pick up a lantern and participate in a moonlit picnic on the 15th night of the eighth lunar month (13 September 2019). This family occasion commemorates a 14th-century anti-Mongol uprising with much cheerful munching of the once-subversive moon cakes.
At long last Hong Kong mellows. Temperatures sensibly cool down to around 22°C (72°F) and rainfall ceases significantly, much to the delight of ramblers and other countryside merrymakers.
What began as a fundraising exercise drill by local Ghurkha soldiers in 1981 is today a celebrated endurance test that challenges hikers in teams of four to complete the 100km MacLehose Trail in 48 hours.
Hong Kong International Literary Festival
Held over 10 days in autumn, the festival features established and emerging writers from around the world. Past authors have included luminaries Margaret Atwood and Louis de Bernières.
Hong Kong’s largest outdoor music festival incorporates international, regional and local live music of a mostly indie variety, as well as art installations and pop-ups. Acts that have played the festival include New Order, the Libertines, A$AP and Massive Attack.
Arguably the best time of the year to visit the city. Sunny days and clear-blue skies reign. The delightful weather is perfect for all outdoor activities, though brace for the Christmas shopping crowds.
Hong Kong Winterfest
Rejoice as neon Yuletide murals appear on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront. Ferry across to Statue Sq to see illuminated Christmas trees and fake snow. Join teenage revellers around Times Sq to ring in Christmas day.
Hong Kong International Races
Billed as the Turf World Championships, master horsemen and equine stars from across the planet descend on the beautifully set Sha Tin Racecourse to do battle. Expect fanatical betting from the 60,000-plus who pack the stands.