The fifth Hong Kong Beach Festival: sun, sea, sandcastles and stand-up paddleboards
Head to Repulse Bay Beach in the south of Hong Kong Island in October for two days of fun, with water polo, sandcastles, mermaids, races and much more
Hong Kong beach lovers will be slapping on the sunscreen, donning their snazziest swimwear and joining the stampede to Repulse Bay on the last weekend of October for the fifth annual Hong Kong Beach Festival.
There’ll be pizza, beer and pounding beats from local DJs as party-goers squeeze out the last few drops of summer.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events this year is the Sandcastle Fun Day, held from 2pm to 5pm on both days of the festival (a separate ticket price applies). Forget the generic bucket castle or burying your uncle up to his neck in the sand: this is an event where professional sand sculptors from local company Castles Can Fly will teach children and parents how to craft exquisitely detailed sandy citadels using special tools.
Sporty types can take part in a range of aquatic activities, including the Repulse Bay Triple, an open-water swimming race on Sunday afternoon. Organised by Open Water Asia, the event includes three swims in and around the bay. Participants will need to complete each of the three races, which get progressively longer each time, first with a 300-metre challenge, then 600m, and finally, the exhausting 900m stage.
“Hong Kong Beach Festival is really focused on sports this year, as we want to promote water sports and Hong Kong’s southern beaches,” says Bonnie Chu, from the Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Association, that organises the yearly event.
This will also be the festival’s first time offering beach volleyball, with a tournament organised by one of the sport’s stars, Cat Ng. Ng, along with her Hong Kong National Beach Volleyball teammate Mei Wong, are the city’s two top ranked players.
“Instead of sitting in an air-conditioned sports complex, audiences can get very close to the beach volleyball courts to feel the tension and excitement of the games,” says Ng, adding that they hope to host an even bigger event next year.
Those who’d rather sit back with a drink and watch others get sweaty can watch the Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Tournament. The preliminary open and junior rounds will take place on Saturday, before the finals and award ceremony on Sunday. Sign up online (from HK$380 per player), and everyone can join in the post-tournament festivities.
One of the more intriguing activities held during the weekend will be stand-up paddleboard (SUP) water polo, where players follow the competitive ball game’s rules while stood on a board and propelling themselves through the water with a long paddle. All festival-goers will get a chance to try balancing on a SUP board.
The beach-based bacchanal will reach next-level Instagram potential with the arrival of a posse of professionally trained mermaids representing Aquaticity, a local academy that runs merfolk masterclasses at swimming pools throughout the city, and teaches students how to swim comfortably underwater while wearing a monofin – a flipper that links the feet together.
As well as performing stunts, Aquaticity mermaids will also take on a water polo team in a mermaid-meets-polo stand-off.
“Yes, mermaids look great, but it’s actually a proper sport that involves a combination of diving and monofin swimming skills,” Chu says. “Watch for them diving into the water from the pontoon. It’s great to have polo and mermaids together – it should make for some interesting chemistry.”
Hong Kong Beach Festival will be held on 28 and 29 October 2017 at Repulse Bay Beach. Entry is free. Sandcastle Fun Day, HK$150, ticketflap.com.
Registering for the Repulse Bay Triple costs HK$450 per entrant (openwaterasia.com)
Register your water polo team for the tournament at eventbrite.hk