Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lunar New Year Fairs in Hong Kong

Leading up to the Lunar New Year holiday, Hong Kong holds fairs in 15 different locations for a period of 7 days. A section of the fairs are dedicated to flower markets but much else is also sold. A large number of stalls are run by college students to gain sales experience and to hopefully make some money.

I recently visited two of the largest fairs--one at Fa Hui Park in Sham Shui Po the night of the opening day and another at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay several days later. I also briefly stopped by a smaller fair in Kwun Tong. The Hong Kong fairs reminded me of a Lunar New Year fair I visited in Guangzhou 3 years ago. However, some of what I saw in Hong Kong reflected a culture specific to there and one set of stalls in particular was strikingly unlike anything one could expect to see at a fair in mainland China. I'll save that topic for a later post.

Below are assorted scenes capturing a small taste of the Hong Kong fairs. The first 10 photos are from Fa Hui Park and the second 10 are from Victoria Park. The fair at Victoria Park was larger and, at least when I went, the crowds were far denser. In some sections it required a significant effort simply to cross an aisle from one booth to another. Several Hongkongers said that's part of the experience which draws them there.

four female college students wearing large read bows on their heads and holding bags and stuffed toys
These college students at the Fa Hui Lunar New Year Fair tried their best to sell me a stuffed toy.

little girl hugging a stuffed toy
Fortunately, they found a more appreciative potential customer.

male college student making a Magic Goo balloon
If stuffed toys weren't your thing, perhaps some German Magic Goo would do the trick.

stall selling spicy XO sauce
Locally-made spicy XO sauce

stall selling kimchi
Also spicy: Korean kimchi

purple orchids at the Fa Hui Lunar New Year Fair in Hong Kong
A small sample of the flowers for sale

colorful pinwheels
Pinwheels are a popular part of the holiday.

seven college students holding stuffed toys
If you wanted a giant "no smoking" stuffed cigarette, this was your place.

large food stall with signs for Vitasoy
Like an American fair, food was available.

large pot of Chinese style meatballs
Although many of the options differed.

dense crowd at the Victoria Park Lunar New Year Fair in Hong Kong
Sections of the Victoria Park Lunar New Year Fair seemed completely packed during the day, but one vendor told me it would become even more crowded that night.

little girl sitting on a mans shoulders
High perches were needed by some.

woman at a stall selling and demonstrating Nano Diamond Coating
One of the more pragmatic offerings

man demonstrating a shower water filter
Shower water filters

woman looking at flowers
More flowers

two college students hold stuffed toys
And more stuffed toys

a stall sign with Barack Obama's head on a horse body
Many of the signs and names for the students' stalls incorporated a horse theme in recognition of the Chinese zodiac sign for the new year. In this case, they also played on the fact that Barack Obama's name in Chinese includes the character for "horse".

young woman selling signs reading "NEXT STATION UNIVERSITY", "YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE", "EXCEED THREE EXPLODE FOUR", etc.
Some college students sold their own creations which they said reflected Hong Kong culture.

man with blue dyed hair holding an item while many people in a crowd reach out their hands
A blue-haired man handing out free items had no problem drawing a crowd.

high school boy and girl holding and wearing pink inflatable items and a pink stuffed animal
Two friendly high-school students seeking customers in a less crowded area

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