The festive season may still be a few months away, but festival season seems to be upon us already with the arrival of a host of celebrations of music, film - and even beer drinking.
The word 'festival' is derived from the Latin 'festivus', used to describe a joyous holiday or feast day, which is quite appropriate considering this is October and therefore time for Oktoberfest, the annual celebration of the joys of amber fluid, sausages and sauerkraut.
Tsim Sha Tsui's Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel is now preparing for its 19th German Bierfest, which this year is open from October 23 to November 13, making it the longest-running outdoor Oktoberfest party in Asia. Of all the local Oktoberfest events, this one is the most family friendly, with piles of great food and a hilarious Bavarian band running through the Chicken Dance perhaps too many times each night. It's good, clean fun.
The Happy Valley Racecourse is also hosting a variety of Oktoberfest celebrations, including a budget event at the Beer Garden and an upmarket bash at the Adrenaline Lounge on October 13 and 20, and then the big Erdinger Oktoberfest from October 28 to 30 featuring the Munich Bierfest band the Flying Sausages.
Music fans have it just as good as the beer monsters. The Hong Kong International Jazz Festival kicked off last Sunday and is showcasing acclaimed jazz musicians from countries including the US, Norway, Sweden and Malaysia at City Hall every night this week until it winds up on Saturday.
The Musicarama festival has arrived for lovers of classical music and before it finishes on October 23 will be presenting some quality performances such as the City Chamber Orchestra at Kwai Tsing Theatre tomorrow night, the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble at City Hall on October 13, and the New Sounds from Japan concert at City Hall on October 16.
Also in the classical world, the Chopin Society of Hong Kong's annual Joy of Music Festival is running from October 11 to 17 at City Hall, and its highlights will include recitals by acclaimed pianists Pascal Roge, Peter Frankl and Gary Graffman.
Meanwhile, more experimental sounds - as well as some interesting art - will be on offer at the New Vision Arts Festival, which opens on October 15. The musical highlight would have to be the November 6-7 performances of the Butterfly Effect at Sha Tin Town Hall, featuring an incongruous mixture of musicians such as former Siouxsie and the Banshees drummer Budgie, South African percussionist Mabi and X Japan guitarist Sugizo.
To lighten the tone a bit, TakeOut Comedy Club's fourth annual International Comedy Festival was launched last night, and before it winds up on October 16 will have split a few sides with shows such as the debut English-language one-man show by popular local funnyman Vivek Mahbubani on October 9 and performances by Comedy Central comedian Shecky Wong on October 14-15.
And finally cinema buffs also have some good festivals to look forward to. The seventh Hong Kong Asian Film Festival from October 22 to November 8 will focus on cinema from the Greater China region as well as hosting the world premieres of Wong Ching-po's Revenge: A Love Story and Mak Yan-yan's Merry-Go-Round. Then a bit further down the track there's the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, which has become Asia's most important lesbian and gay film festival and this year runs from November 20 to December 1.