NEW YEAR

Colourful dragon dance parade and harbour swim kick off 2017 events in Hong Kong

Festive annual activities draw participants, spectators and consumers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 3:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 10:51pm

Crowds gathered in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday for a spectacular dragon dance parade, and elsewhere in Hong Kong other annual activities generated enthusiastic turnout as the city welcomed 2017.

Scores of colourful Chinese dragons marched from the Cultural Centre Piazza to Canton Road at lunchtime Sunday as the parade followed a well-trodden route around the southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula.

They later returned to the Cultural Centre for additional dance performances, which were streamed live on Facebook. The popular event has been held since 2012.

It followed a sensational fireworks display over Victoria Harbour for New Year’s Eve, set to a remix of the traditional New Year’s folk song Auld Lang Syne.

The display, which kicked off about three seconds before the end of the official countdown, was lengthened from eight to 10 minutes this year, attracting more than 300,000 revellers on both sides of the harbour. A street party was also held next to the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Meanwhile, those keen to throw off their New Year’s Day hangover joined the annual 600m swim from Middle Bay Beach on Hong Kong Island to Repulse Bay Jetty.

Participants could choose to enter one of six competition categories, or just opt to swim for leisure.

The 41st New Year Winter Swimming Lifesaving Championships saw thousands of swimmers, some of whom are physically disabled, take on the challenge. The event was organised by the Life Saving Society.

Sunday also marked the start of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s free fun day programmes for the new year to encourage interest in plants and exercise. The first such event was held at Shek Kip Mei Park from 2 to 5pm Sunday. It is to be followed by similar events on weekends at 12 parks across the city from January 1 to February 26, supported by the Orienteering Association.

Over in Mong Kok, families continued to turn out for FarmFest 2017 in Fa Hui Park, the largest outdoor farmers’ market in Hong Kong.

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

The event, which was launched on Friday and is to run until Monday, boasts 370 stalls selling local agricultural and fishery products.

As well as sampling fresh food, visitors could learn about new farming equipment and methods.