Lunar New Year

Red mist: Lunar New Year fireworks display in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour struggles against the elements

Revellers braved the gloom while taking up vantage points hours before the show began

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 January, 2017, 12:30am

Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year pyrotechnic extravaganza turned out to be little more than a damp squib as mist and fog blanketed the view across Victoria Harbour on Sunday night.

Prime views of the 23-minute display from The Peak were thwarted as thick clouds smothered the view with visibility dropping to just 10 metres at the popular tourist attraction. Hordes of visitors were left bitterly disappointed by the weather.

“It was tricky to see but that is just part of my journey in Hong Kong and I will have many more adventures along the way,” said Australian visitor Adrian Lee Jones. “I thought the fireworks were great even though I couldn’t see much. Shame about the weather [but] nevertheless you make do with what you got.”

Despite the mist and drizzle, hundreds of thousands of people lined up on both sides of Victoria Harbour to watch the Lunar New Year fireworks on Sunday night, the most anticipated event during the holiday.

The revellers took up vantage points hours before the show began and their mood was not dampened by the earlier forecasts from the Observatory, which warned the city would be wet, with clouds at low altitude and relatively low visibility.

It also warned smoke from the fireworks would linger due to the moderate easterly wind.

A photo equipment shop owner, surnamed Yip, who has photographed the show for the last five years from the promenade off the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, had been ready since 8.30am. He said the weather had been good in the morning but had deteriorated, making him concerned about the quality of shots he would get. He was well prepared though, with all his equipment protected from the water and with an inflatable couch to rest on.

Another spectator, surnamed Ng, was looking forward to the show with his wife and daughter.

He said his mood was not affected by damp weather.

The Lunar New Year pyrotechnics display was one of the most anticipated events during the holiday with almost 24,000 shells being fired from three barges in the harbour to mark the Year of the Rooster.

The 23-minute display cost about HK$8 million, paid for by sponsor Unique Timepieces by Halewinner, according to the Home Affairs Bureau.

The eight-part show, which started at 8pm, also featured the number ‘20’ in blazing fireworks to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s establishment as a Special Administrative Region.

But some spectators said the number ‘20’ could not be seen clearly, and when the show went into its fourth part, whole patterns of fireworks which flared higher up were blocked.

One man said he was very disappointed and jokingly said it was like those smog on mainland.

“My favourite scene was the smog. Its so smoggy. I almost saw nothing.”

But a spectator from Taiwan said she was still stunned by the “spectacular” show especially the last part because firework displays in Taiwan are not usually staged at waterfront.

Police said 286,500 people watched the show on both sides of the harbour, with 241,900 on the island side and the rest on Kowloon. That compared with 291,000 viewers last year.

Additional reporting by Danny Lee