New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Chinese New Year is one of Hong Kong’s biggest and most colourful festivals! Falling on 25 January in 2020, celebrations are spread over three days during which it is impossible to not be caught in the energy as you squeeze into crowded temples to pray for good fortune for the coming year, browse festive markets selling auspicious foods and blooms, and photograph the red lanterns that adorn the city.

The 2020 Chinese New Year Parade which was scheduled for 25 January at 8pm has been cancelled due to the ongoing situation. Instead, a four-day carnival from 25 – 28 January will take place in the city at an unconfirmed location and will be one of the landmark celebrations to welcome the new year. The high calibre of dazzling performances by local and international performers that used to take place during the parade will now be staged during the carnival.

Flower markets sprout up all over Hong Kong on the week preceding the New Year holiday. Travellers looking for the biggest market should venture over to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, while those nearer Kowloon should head to Mongkok’s Fa Hui Park.

This year’s Year of the Rat Fireworks celebration will be held on 26 January at 8:00 pm and last for approximately 20 minutes. There is no admission charge and guests can watch all along the waterfront or from anywhere in sight of the Victoria Harbour skies. One of Destination Asia’s favourite free spots to watch is from the Tsim Sha Tsui side with Victoria Peak and the Central Skyline in the background, where visitors can watch all along the promenade and the Avenue of the Stars, from the Star Ferry Terminal to the New World Centre in the East.

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Chinese New Year in Malaysia

Chinese New Year is a time for celebration and merrymaking. Family reunions, feasts, and open houses are a common feature while children receive ‘ang pows’ or little red money packets from the elders. Don’t miss the exciting lion and dragon dance performances at shopping malls and homes.

During Chinese New Year, the Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang is light up for 15 days during Chinese New Year. The Temple of Supreme Bliss, also known as the Kek Lok si Temple, is a crowd puller and famous attraction, especially during the Chinese New Year. Devotees from far and near flock to this 125-year-old temple for its annual lighting display which showcases more than 10,000 lights. It is believed this act of faith will bring them peace, luck and prosperity.

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Tet Holiday in Vietnam 

Vietnamese New Year, or Tet Holiday, is one of the most important celebrations in Vietnamese culture. Celebrations and festivities take place from the first until the third day of the first month of the lunar calendar – the same time as Chinese New Year – and will take place from 24 – 27 January in 2020.

Vietnamese people celebrate the new year season with family activities and gatherings. Houses will be cleaned, painted and decorated with colourful flowers – usually with yellow apricot blossoms in the central and the southern part of Vietnam and with peach blossoms in the North. Ancestors are presented with fruit offerings to thank them for a successful year and pray for another auspicious year. Peace and luck are wished upon family members, friends and even colleagues.

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River Hongbao in Singapore

The River Hongbao has been featured on Singapore’s festive calendar every year since 1987. Held at NS Square, the Marina Bay floating platform, this iconic event has become an integral tradition of Singapore’s Lunar New Year celebrations for locals and tourists alike.

With daily fireworks happening throughout the festival, visitors can head down to NS Square and witness the unique fireworks displays against the magnificent Marina Bay skyline.

Scheduled for 23 January – 1 February in 2020, visitors will be astounded by the larger-than-life lanterns depicting figures of Chinese myths and legends, handcrafted onsite by craftsmen from China. Crowd favourites include the God of Fortune, and of course, the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. A myriad of fringe activities ranging from amusement rides to carnival games ensures there is never a dull moment, while opera and other street performances round up this colourful extravaganza. For a breather amid the cacophony of sights and sounds, a spread of exotic delicacies can be found at the outdoor Food Street.

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Naga New Year Festival in Myanmar

The Naga New Year is the Naga’s biggest festival and sees all Naga tribes in northeast Myanmar and India join to celebrate. Celebrations will be held from 13 – 16 January in 2020 and are the perfect opportunity to see a variety of different Naga communities come together.

Nagas are a tribal group inhabiting the northwestern hill trucks of Myanmar and the Indian state of Nagaland. The Naga comprises of several tribes, each with their own colourful culture, language and stories. Many Naga remain Christians following British rule and each village has a bible and hymns in its own language. Nowadays, the younger generation is also adopting trends that are sweeping the rest of the nation, such as longyi, pants and shirt.

For more information on programs that would ideally suit the Naga New Year, check out our Naga New Year Festival Trip program on the Agent Hub.

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Hmong New Year Festival in Laos

Based on both religious and cultural beliefs, the Hmong New Year Festival is an “in-house” ritual that takes place annually in every Hmong household. The celebration is to acknowledge the completion of the rice-harvesting season—thus, the beginning of a new year—so that a new life can.

The most recognisable part of the Hmong New Year celebration is pov pob, a ball-throwing game played by young children. Boys and girls form two separate lines in pairs that are directly facing one another. Girls can ball toss with other girls or boys, but boys cannot ball toss with other boys. It is also taboo to toss the ball to someone of the same clan. The pairs toss a cloth ball back and forth until one member drops the ball. If a player drops or misses the ball, an ornament or item is given to the opposite player in the pair. Ornaments are recovered by singing love songs to the opposite player.

During this celebration, the Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy traditional food, dance, music, and other forms of entertainment. “Wandering” souls are called back to unite with the family, while the young honour their elders during a ritual to ask for blessings. House spirits, as well as the spirit of wealth, are also honoured. In addition, if a shaman is in the house, the healing spirits of She-Yee are also honoured and released to wander the land until they are called back right after the new year.

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