Lunar New Year

Hongkongers pile into the park for all the fun of the Lunar New Year fair

A good day for illustrators, but less good for florists, as the city’s best-known festive market enters its final day

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 10:53pm

Huge crowds were building on Thursday evening at Victoria Park, the site of Hong Kong’s largest Lunar New Year market, as the city counts down to the Year of the Dog.

Many shoppers were hunting for bargains on the last day of the week-long fair, which offered a variety of festive items from flowers and cushions to snacks and home decorations.

While there were 15 Lunar New Year markets around the city offering similar products, the one at the Causeway Bay park remains the most popular because of its central location. Visiting the markets is a traditional way to ring in the most important festival in Chinese culture.

Crowd control measures were in place soon after noon on Thursday, with visitors lining up at the gates to enter and some 480 booths spread across six of the park’s football pitches.

As in previous years, the fair played host to a number of secondary school students testing out their entrepreneurial skills in a business challenge.

To set up a business at the fair, pupils had to bid in an auction to win a booth, before sourcing their products, handling the logistics and finally hawking their wares, while watching out for competition.

About 45 pupils and old boys from King’s College, one of the oldest public schools in Hong Kong, were busy clearing their stock of dog-themed cushions and tote bags.

“We are offering discounts of 20 to 30 per cent in general,” Andy Cheung Wai-wa, who was supervising operations, said.

Cheung, a second-year university student, said he had come back to help out current pupils. He said the school group had always recouped its HK$90,000 investment, and all earnings would go into an education fund at the school.

“It’s not necessarily about making a profit. We want to rack up some experience, as well as build our school’s image while increasing our exposure too,” Cheung said.

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Fairgoers who did not feel like shopping could make their own red scrolls, usually written on long pieces of paper and adorned with auspicious Chinese messages to be pasted on walls or doors.

Well-known illustrator Ah To, making an appearance at the event for the second year in a row, said he was surprised at how well his banners were selling. He had received more than 200 orders over the past few days, at around HK$50 to HK$70 per banner.

“It usually takes me 15 minutes to draw one banner, so customers have to order first and come back hours later to pick up,” he said.

But some flower growers were having less luck. Leung Pui-chuen, who specialises in water lilies – a symbol of good luck in Chinese culture – said the past month’s cold snap had stopped the flowers from blooming in time.

“No one is buying them as they don’t look attractive without blooming,” he said, pointing to hundreds of pots sitting across his stall.

As a result, he had to drastically cut the price from HK$280 to HK$120 per pot, and was prepared to give away all the unsold ones.

The market runs until the morning of February 16, the first day of the Year of the Dog.