Pink Season Hong Kong festival celebrates inclusion, acceptance, awareness and fabulous fun

Five weeks of celebration as the LGBT festival launches at Petticoat Lane on Saturday. Expect art events, educational seminars, the Urban Race, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and a huge beach party in Shek O to finish

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 September, 2017, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 7:30pm

Asia’s premier LGBT festival Pink Season HK launches tomorrow with five weeks of themed events that celebrate acceptance, inclusion and awareness. The festival’s co-director, Philip Howell-Williams, says last year almost 15,000 people attended 25 events and he hopes to build on this success. Many of this year’s 28 events are new, but favourites such as the Urban Race and beach party remain.

“This year we want to broaden the spectrum so it’s not just about fun and entertainment. We want to create a platform to help people in the community,” says Howell-Williams.

The educational seminars introduced last year will be increased from three to five. Held every Wednesday through Pink Season, they are free to attend and offer advice and information on a broad range of topics.

Lesbian expatriate wins landmark appeal against Hong Kong Immigration Department to secure spousal visa

“We’ve had 10 times more corporate sponsorship than last year which means we’ve been able to make a lot of events free,” says Howell-Williams.

He and co-director Andrew Koch have seen an increase in companies keen to have a pride department and train staff about inclusion, which has led to the surge in corporate sponsorship.

Events are themed by the day of the week – look out for arts events on Tuesdays, entertainment on Thursdays and family and sporting events on Saturdays.

The festival kicks off on September 30 with a launch party at Petticoat Lane – Hong Kong’s newest gay bar (LG/F, 57-59 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2808 2738).

You can find the full rundown of events and book tickets at, meanwhile, here are some of the highlights.

Sex, drugs and dark times: Hong Kong gay men try to escape the dangerous lure of chemsex

Educational seminars

The series of Wednesday seminars begins with “Coming Out” (October 4) – a Cantonese-speaking panel will share their experiences of coming out at home, in education and at work. “How To Be An Ally” (October 11) will be a presentation in English for straight supporters of the LGBT community. The worrying trend of increasing HIV infections as well as safe-sex practices will be addressed in “Health Matters” (October 18).

Indonesia’s LGBT youth bears brunt of hostility towards gay and lesbian community

A panel of industry leaders and young professionals, led by The Economist, will discuss what diversity and inclusion really means in “Diversity In Recruitment” (October 25). And one of the headline events – “Lessons Learned From Taiwan” (November 1) – will look at the methods used to pass same-sex marriage legislation in Taiwan and consider whether it can be replicated in Hong Kong. Victoria Hsu, a Taiwanese lawyer and same-sex marriage activist, and celebrated activist Chi Chia-wei as well as Legco representatives and Hong Kong-based civil rights lawyer Michael Vidler will be on the panel.

Art nights

The series of Tuesday arts nights kicks off with Opening Night Queer Art (October 3),

a contemporary art mixed-media exhibition that promises to show the importance of self expression. There will be a chance for visitors to express their creativity by adding to a large-scale installation piece. This – and all the art events – will be held at Under the Barber, the studio space beneath the barber shop on Pottinger Street. You will need to book ahead if you want to attend the NUDD Life Drawing Event (October 10) as there are limited places and it’s expected to be popular. The top submissions to the PRIDE Poster Showcase & Competition (October 17) will be on display and the audience will have a chance to vote for their favourites.

Why China’s gays and lesbians are still stuck in the closet

A photo exhibition of works by Hong Kong-based photographer Laura Simonsen, “Why Not Here?” (October 24), features a series of portraits of same-sex couples and families of those married abroad, and questions why same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry in Hong Kong. Halloween Special (October 31) promises to be “the campiest and vampiest” of the festival’s art shows with “boundary-pushing illustration and photography in graphic-novel format”. If you’re coming to this show you’re encouraged to come in costume and there will be make-up artists at the studio to transform you, if you’re up for it.


The 1994 Australian comedy-drama The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a story about – as one of the characters puts it – “a cock in a frock on a rock”. The writer-director of the low-budget feature film, Stephan Elliott, will be in Hong Kong for a special screening of Between A Frock And A Hard Place, a documentary about the making of the much-loved film. Elliot will take questions from the audience after the screening. And the following night the original film will be shown at a special open-air screening with the audience encouraged to dance and sing along. And it’s another chance to meet the director Elliot.

Between A Frock And A Hard Place, October 4, 7-9pm, Australian Consulate General, 23/F, Harbour Centre, 25 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, free

Open Air Cinema – Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, October 5, 7-9.30pm, The Butchers Club, 16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Wong Chuk Hang, HK$315

Urban Race

One of the festival’s most popular events, the Urban Race promises to be even more challenging this year. It will be held on the south of Hong Kong Island and teams of five will be given clues via WhatsApp and will have to find landmarks and hidden places. When they reach each spot, they will need to perform tasks and take photos to prove they’ve accomplished the missions. This isn’t just about speed – it will take teamwork, resourcefulness and creativity. Little hint – this year will include boats. It should be an exciting race.

The Urban Race, October 14, 10am-6pm. Island South District, HK$212

Out in the open

The monster beach party to close Pink Season is a favourite among festivalgoers. In keeping with the spirit of the festival, it’s open to everyone: gay, straight, young and old. It begins in the afternoon with games for kids on the beach – sandcastle building and hula hoop competitions with prizes – and as the day rolls on there will be beach yoga sessions. In the evening, expect a full-blown beach party with live music, DJs, games and competitions.

Out In the Open, November 4, 2pm-9pm, Shek O Beach, free