Pink Season, the Hong Kong LGBT festival San Francisco Pride wants to learn from

There’s no other festival like Pink Season, says co-director, who points to its educational elements, from which Pride organisers in San Francisco are looking to learn. Find out what all the fuss is about

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2018, 6:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 6:43pm

Asia’s premier LGBT festival, Pink Season, a five-week celebration of acceptance, inclusion and awareness, launches on Friday in Hong Kong.

Based around the theme of supporting and giving back to the LGBT community, this year’s slightly trimmed-back festival has got a swathe of great new events and a lot more punch. And it’s already looking more chic with a new website and logo.

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“What we do is unique globally. I’m not aware of anything anywhere in the world like Pink Season. Recently the organiser of Pride in San Francisco said he was going to look at what we are doing in Hong Kong and perhaps introduce some of the elements to San Francisco, particularly the educational elements,” says the festival’s co-director, Philip Howell-Williams.

Howell-Williams and the organising team reviewed last year’s festival and decided to cut out some events they did not think added value, keep the favourites and add some new events. They also brought in a professional designer to refresh the festival’s image. The new bilingual logo shows a rainbow pattern rippling through the lettering. The bonus of this revised logo is that it can be easily adapted to work in other countries. And for the first time this year, the festival is going international with partner events running concurrently in Singapore and Thailand.

“We teamed up with local groups on the ground and said ‘This is what we do – and we’d love it if you could take on the Pink Season concept and logo’,” says Howell-Williams.

What we do is unique globally. I’m not aware of anything anywhere in the world like Pink Season
Pink Season’s co-director, Philip Howell-Williams

Pink Season has evolved to include plenty of educational and community activities alongside some very colourful, playful events. It’s a mix that has proven to work for Hong Kong and is a big draw for large companies that are looking to support LGBT initiatives. This year’s big sponsors include big players in finance such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Fidelity International.

“So many companies are setting up internal pride movements and now realise the importance of diversity and inclusion. Many companies are now looking to support that both internally and externally,” says Howell-Williams.

While last year’s events were based around themed days – such as “Art Tuesdays” – this year the programme is more focused around weekends.

All the Pink Season favourites remain: the Variety Show (October 4) showcasing live performances of local talent; and the classic LGBT+ junk trip Floatilla (October 14); the Health Day (October 18) is back with discussion about important issues such as domestic violence, depression and the stigma of HIV testing; and the Sports Day (October 28, Wu Kai Sha) will offer a chance to try archery, underwater hockey, aerial yoga, tennis and volleyball.

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“We support all the great work that the Gay Games is doing. The Sports Day is a little practice run for what will be happening in Hong Kong in four years when Hong Kong becomes the first Asian city to host the Gay Games,” says Howell-Williams.

Rather than the traditional beach party to close the season, the finale – Out In The Open (November 5) – will be held on the roof of Butcher’s Club in Wong Chuk Hang.

Expect a dance group from Cambodia, singers from the UK, yoga, a drag queen competition and plenty of free food and drink.

Most of the 22 events are free, but you do need to book your ticket ahead of time by registering at

Meanwhile, here are some of the best new events.

Drag Queen Workshops

This brilliant series of workshops aims to teach you all you need to know about becoming a drag queen. The first Saturday workshop will be a discussion of what drag is and drag artists will share their experiences – there’s no limit to the number of people who can join.

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There are just 20 spots available for the next two workshops – on dance and movement and make-up and clothing – for the most keen wannabe drag artists. While it is about having fun, it’s also serious – as in, if you seriously want to be a drag queen – and participants can enter a drag queen competition on the festival’s final night with a pair of British Airways return flights to London for the winner.

September 29, 6-8pm, Naked Hub New Street Coworking Space; Oct 6, Wong Chuk Hang; Oct 26, Causeway Bay

Career Day

This event promises to offer all the support an LGBTI individual needs starting out in their career.

There will be workshops on how to present yourself at work, how to create a great LinkedIn profile, how to deal with coming out at work and how to set up your own business. The recruitment firm Michael Paige will also be on hand to offer one-on-one career advice.

October 20, 12pm, location TBA

Spark4 Impact

This event will start with a guided historical walk around Central followed by a workshop which aims to find solutions to problems faced by the LGBTI community by involving the whole of Hong Kong. Impact X, a social enterprise co-organising the event, will create a report based on the suggestions put forward by participants.

September 30, 7pm-10pm, Herbert Smith Freehills, 23/F Gloucester Tower, 15 Queen’s Rd Central, free

Miles of Love

Organised by travel advocacy forums, Planet Ally and All Out, this event will look at how the travel industry is failing to support the LGBT+ communities in many destinations that it represents and what can be done about it.

For example, consider how a Hong Kong gay couple can holiday comfortably in Bali while half a mile down the road a gay person is given 60 lashes for their sexuality. Guest speakers will be fly in from around the world to share their views.

November 2 (9am-6pm; 7pm-late), Nov 3, (9am-6pm), Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Rd, Kowloon, HK$847

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Adrift in Macao

Performed by the Hong Kong Singers, this promises to be massive romp of a musical parody of classic film noir movies. Set in Macau in 1952, where everyone is hanging around waiting for something to happen, its populated with classic film noir characters – curvaceous blondes, casino owners and shady men on the run.

October 2-6, Academy of Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Rd, Wan Chai, Wan Chai, HK$290 (tickets from , use the code “pink2018” for a 10 per cent discount)

Culture Fest Art Weekend

Organised with the support of PLUG Magazine, this cultural weekend will feature a marketplace, exhibitions, workshops and performances. Ovolo Southside is offering Pink Season Art Weekend Staycationers a 23 per cent discount. Register for the CultureFest to get the discount code.

October 6-7, 12pm-9pm, The Hive Spring, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, free