Hong Kong sees in the new year with a traditional bang

Tens of thousands viewed the midnight fireworks display over Victoria Harbour while others attended countdowns in different parts of the city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 12:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 3:27am

Hong Kong welcomed 2017 with a spectacular fireworks display over Victoria Harbour and countdowns at several other locations around town.

As the magic moment approached, crowds shouted “three, two, one!”. Fireworks then shot up over the harbour, lighting up the night sky in bright colours as crowds cheered and took photos.

Watch: Hong Kong welcomes 2017 as fireworks light up Victoria Harbour

The display, which lasted 10 minutes instead of the normal eight, featured patterns including six interlocking stars and butterflies.

From 11pm, six buildings on Hong Kong Island – Cheung Kong Centre, Citic Tower, Harbour Centre, Harcourt House, the government headquarters in Admiralty and Revenue Tower – set off “wishing star” fireworks every 15 minutes until midnight for people to make new year wishes. The four sessions represented happiness, health, fulfilment and affluence.

People arrived early to get the best positions on the harbourfront, with the police expecting about 330,000 people to watch the display from both sides of the harbour,

A man surnamed Lau said he arrived at around 3pm to get a good position to watch and take photos of the display.

“I also came [in 2015] but when I arrived there were already four or five rows of people in front of me,” Lau said. “So I decided to be smarter and arrive earlier this year.”

I decided to be smarter and arrive earlier this year
Fireworks fan Mr Lau

Another person waiting at the harbourfront, Chan Yuen-fan, 24, said she hoped to find a boyfriend in 2017.

“He better be handsome and rich too, but I will settle for a nice guy who loves me,” she said.

But Chan said if she picked just one wish, she hoped there would be peace on Earth.

Jackie Tang, 49, said the political atmosphere in Hong Kong was very tense and he hoped a new chief executive could unite society.

“As for my family, I hope we are all healthy and happy. That is already enough.”

Kate Cheung, 16, said her wish was to get into a good university and be a lawyer when she graduated.

The organiser of the display also arranged a “street party” for the first time, with local singers and bands performing near the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui from around 10pm. Onlookers cheered and clapped at the performances.

Celebrations took place all over the city including one organised by Bank of China on the viewing deck of the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui officiated by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung.

Party-goers flooded into the MTR heading for popular countdown spots in Central, Causeway Bay and along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.

Streets around Lan Kwai Fong in Central were closed to traffic at 6pm, while roads near another viewing point – the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai – closed at 9pm.

Revellers – many dressed up – descended on the narrow streets of Lan Kwai Fong ­to enjoy new year drinks as the countdown approached.

Countdowns also took place at the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay, the APM shopping mall in Kwun Tong and the New Town Plaza in Sha Tin.

But Times Square in Causeway Bay, which used to be a countdown hot spot, had the event suspended for a second consecutive year. No reason was given.

There was also a countdown at the Brands and Products Expo in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. The organisers handed out HK$300 cash coupons to about 10,000 grass-roots people to shop at the event, which ends on Monday. It was the first time the expo, teaming up with charities, distributed such coupons.