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Dancers from the Korean National University of the Arts take part in Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year night parade in 2019. Photo: Edmond So

Coronavirus: Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year night parade to be replaced by online shopping platform

  • The platform will allow shoppers to buy local delicacies and goods from traditional and up-and-coming brands
  • It will also offer more than 500 discount deals on dining, retail and sightseeing attractions
Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year night parade will be moved mostly online, organisers have announced, as social-distancing rules amid the ongoing fourth wave of coronavirus infections prompt more muted celebrations to welcome the Year of the Ox.

The Lunar New Year night parade – first held in 1996, and usually a vibrant cultural event showcasing an array of international performances – will not be held in Tsim Sha Tsui for the second year in a row. Instead, it will be replaced by an “online mart” held between February 8 and 26 – one bereft of even live-streamed performances.

The event will cost the Hong Kong Tourism Board HK$3.6 million, less than a tenth of the HK$42 million (US$5.4 million) it splashed out in 2020 to replace the annual parade with a four-day carnival over fears of civil unrest.

Locals can use the mart to purchase Lunar New Year gift boxes featuring goods from more than 70 local and international brands, traditional festive dishes from over 20 luxury restaurants and some 500 discount deals on dining, retail and sightseeing attractions.

This year’s ‘online mart’ will let shoppers purchase gift boxes featuring goods from local and international brands. Photo: Handout

Tourism Board executive director Dane Cheng Ting-yat said in a statement that major events had been moved online in response to the current coronavirus situation in the city.

“As far as this year’s campaign is concerned, we will take the traditions online and infuse them with innovative elements, sending the public our festive blessings in a whole new fashion,” Cheng said.

Mason Hung Chung-hing, the board’s general manager of event and product development, said at an online briefing on Thursday that the three-week Lunar New Year drive, titled “Fortunes at Home”, would feature crossover products with traditional local and emerging brands curated by marketing firm FEED.

Some products include handmade herbal tea candies co-created by the 70-year-old Kung Lee Sugar Cane Drink brand and Spanish confectioner Papabubble starting at HK$108 per set. Shoppers can also order Fu Gui chicken, stuffed with glutinous rice, from The Legacy House at Rosewood Hong Kong for takeaway at HK$1,388.

Florists have until Friday to decide whether to join Lunar New Year flower fairs

For its offline offerings, those born in the Year of the Rat, or the Year of the Ox, can enjoy a sky pass ticket on the city’s iconic Peak Tram at a discounted price of HK$28, reduced from HK$99.

Late last year, the tourism board held a five-week Wine and Dine Festival using a similar format that attracted some 850,000 online viewers for its masterclass events which we streamed live, about 30 per cent of those were from overseas, it revealed on Thursday.

Current social-distancing rules – including compulsory mask-wearing and a two-person cap on public gatherings and groups in restaurants – have been extended to at least Wednesday, subject to the review of health authorities.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong health officials on Tuesday made a U-turn on their previous decision to cancel annual Lunar New Year flower markets, moving instead to allow the events to go forward with tightened crowd-control measures after an uproar from local farmers and vendors.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: ‘online mart’ replaces big parade