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Whether the city is your home permanently or for this Christmas only, you’re in a great spot for a truly festive vibe. There’s a lot to do for the whole family and Rebecca Simpson gives her top tips on what to do to soak up the spirit of the season...
1. Visiting Santa
Nothing says Christmas like visiting The Fat Man. This is mandatory for a lot of families, especially those with little ones old enough to understand the concept of Santa and all the fun he can bring.
There are a few places to see Santa; some of our favourites are Pacific Place, Ocean Park, Disneyland and Festival Walk, which usually feature exciting Christmas activities. While the themes might differ each year, you can always count on a beautifully lit tree, a heap of shiny presents and a jolly Santa Claus to add to the festive atmosphere. Many of the clubs also have an event featuring Santa for the kids.
It’s imperative you do your homework when it comes to Santa visits or you could miss out. Mostly, you’ll be charged to see Santa, with some proceeds going to charity at certain venues. So, shop around if you want your visit to also credit your ‘Nice score’ this year. Christmas is not a time to procrastinate; be sure to get your tickets quickly because Santa visits are often scheduled and they can become booked out.
On the day of your Santa session, pack your patience and some distractions or snacks for little ones. Lines to see The Fat Man can be long in Hong Kong and so bringing some support in the form of dad or a helpful helper will work in your favour as you wait it out.
2. Christmas themed theatre
The Nutcracker has become a modern-classic Christmas tale almost synonymous with Christmas, particularly for those who appreciate the performing arts. Family or mummy-and-me attendance at The Nutcracker is a beautiful tradition to uphold or introduce to your family.
The Hong Kong Ballet, one of the premier classical ballet companies in Asia, has a yearly performance of The Nutcracker. This year shows are from 18-27 December. Get your tickets from URBTIX.
For something less serious, check out The Hong Kong Players’ Christmas Panto, Cinderella. It opens on 14 December at a fun new venue, Udderbelly – a pop-up theatre shaped like an upside-down purple cow. This is a fun show and might be a better fit for younger kids who may not appreciate the ballet just yet.
3. Indulge in some Christmas lunch
Christmas is a time for eating, drinking and being merry. There are some wonderful Christmas meals available in the lead up to Christmas and on Christmas Day. For those who won’t be here for Christmas, organise some early Christmas celebrations with friends (and the kids) over a Sunday brunch in December.
Kid-friendly favourites like Café Deco at the Peak or The W will fill up fast, so make sure you book well in advance.
4. Festival of (Christmas) lights
The Hong Kong skyline is stellar at Christmas. Almost every building gets involved with seasonal decorations. It’s a great time to take the kids (or visitors) to Tsim Sha Tsui and gaze back at the city in all its lit up glory. Kick your night off with a ride on the Star Ferry and take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront to enjoy the view.
The beautiful decorations and impressive lights make for a special night out, even if you’ve watched the light show a million times with guests.
5. Marvel at Hong Kong’s Christmas displays
Harbour City is the money shot for incredible Christmas displays. If you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas-themed snap, head on over to Harbour City and go for it. This is a great one to visit on the same night you head to Kowloon to enjoy the lights. The Peninsula also puts on a beautiful display and is worth a visit.
On the Island side, try taking the kids to Statue Square once the sun goes down so they can see the city’s most glamorous Christmas tree. In previous years the tree has been decorated by Tiffany’s and Swarovski; it’s always a very glitzy Christmas in Hong Kong!
6. Theme parks
Winter is a great time of year to hit the theme parks – rug up and get out there! Our two theme parks, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, both turn on the Christmas charm in December. A day at either park will have the grumpiest Scrooge admitting they had a good time.
The happiest place on earth becomes the most Christmassy place on earth in December. Mickey, Minnie and the whole crew get in the spirit and dress in their special Christmas outfits. Those staying at the hotel or hitting the gift shops will also feel the holiday love.
Ocean Park hosts its Christmas Sensation each year and 2015 is no exception. This is a great option with older kids; the rides at Ocean Park are a little more adventurous and should deliver a Christmas adrenaline hit for those looking for thrills.
Both parks also sell ticket packages and yearly passes that make great Christmas gifts.
7. Shop ‘til you drop
Malls and stores are jam-packed with Christmassy goodness, but don’t forget about Hong Kong’s plethora of Christmas Bazaars – they’re a great way to pick up unique gifts and a bargain or two.
The Conrad hotel hosts a few bazaars in the lead up to Christmas, starting with their Pre-Christmas Gift Parade on 25 November for organised shoppers, and the last held on 14 December for the rest of us.
The American Women’s Association Bazaar is another great gift-buying opportunity – and because the AWA Bazaar works to support over 20 charities, you can shop your way onto the ‘Nice list’! And, be sure to check with schools in your local area. Many International and ESF schools host Bazaars in November and December, too.
However you decide to celebrate Christmas, take the time to appreciate your family and the beautiful city we live in. Merry Christmas to you all!