One of the highlight events of Chinese New Year is the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade.
Filled with dozens of over-the-top floats, billions of LEDs, and world class performances, this parade is like Disney’s Electrical Parade on steroids. A feast for your senses, this parade has been taking place for the past 19 years, and has consistently made in onto the Best Events of the Year list by Forbes.
However, with all great events, especially in Hong Kong, you can guarantee that there will be crowds. And mass crowds at that. So if you’re hoping to watch this year’s parade, here are some tips on how to do so!
1. Buy your seat.
While this is probably the most convenient option, it’s also one of the most expensive (apart from booking a hotel room that looks onto the parade route). Tickets go on sale generally one week beforehand at the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitors Center in Tsim Sha Tsui. Prepare to get there at least 30 minutes prior to opening because tickets sell out very fast.
Tickets range from HK$300-$400 depending on your seat location. This can add up quite quickly if you’re a family with children, but at least you’ll have a guaranteed good view and a place to sit down!
2. If you’re going to stand along the parade route, arrive early and well prepared.
Standing along the parade route is free, so of course this is what most people do. Last year we arrived 2 hours before the parade began, but it was already horribly crowded.
Once you find a place to stand- DO NOT LEAVE IT! Even sending one person from your group to go and retrieve food or drinks can be risky. Instead, make sure to pack everything with you beforehand, and dress in layers as Hong Kong can still be really cold during this time.
3. Don’t plan to arrive by taxi; take the MTR.
Like most Hong Kong events, the streets get shut down by police for crowd control purposes. That being said, cars and taxi will not even be able to get close to the parade route, and will often get stuck in traffic causing you to miss the event entirely.
The best plan of action is to take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui or East Tsim Sha Tsui. There are many exits from these two stations that will put you right along the parade route.
Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exits: A, C, D and E
East Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exits: J, K, L1, L3, L5 and L6
4. Look at the parade route and plan accordingly.
The route has been known to change from year to year slightly, so make sure the route you’re looking at is for the current year. Because it gets so crowded, it is best if you have an idea of where you want to stand beforehand. Map out the route you plan to take to get there, and especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area, try to put the map on your phone or even print it out.
5. Prepare yourself for the crowds.
There will be crowds, so some people just need to mentally prepare themselves for that. It’s likely that you’ll need to stand your ground and ward off pushy people– especially those with small children. After the parade ends, everyone will be pushing to get home. Use this time to duck into a nearby restaurant for a later dinner or snack in order to avoid the frenzied swarm to the MTR and taxi stands.
6. Enjoy the pre-show performances.
An hour before the actual parade starts a street party of sorts takes place. All of the various acts from the parade perform for the audience while they wait. It’s like a smaller version of the parade minus all of the glitzy lights and large floats. So, if you get there early enough, you can enjoy all of the performances, and that way, if someone pushes you from your spot you’ll have already seen the acts anyways!
7. Watch the parade on TV.
If you just can’t be bothered with all of the crowds, consider watching the parade from the comforts of your home. TVB Jade telecasts the parade live each year. You can also see all of the colorful parade floats up close as they’re put on display in Lam Tsuen for all of Chinese New Year following the parade.[divider]