Change of pace for New Year revelry

Top News | Amy Nip 8 Jan 2020

The traditional Lunar New Year night parade in Tsim Sha Tsui has been replaced with a four-day carnival as the Tourism Board changes the form of the celebrations amid the social unrest.

The carnival will run through the first four days of the holiday - January 25 to 28 - at the Art Park in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Tourism Board general manager Mason Hung Chung-hing said police will not be stationed inside the carnival, which is not charging admission, though visitors will only be allowed to sing or chant slogans if they do not disturb others.

So gone are the floats that used to sail through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui in a two-hour parade on the first day of Lunar New Year.

The main attractions will instead be performing groups from Hong Kong and overseas, who will join in 30-minute parades over four days on West Kowloon promenade. There will also be stage performances throughout the afternoon of January 25 among various attractions.

Board chairman Pang Yiu-kai reckoned the carnival will match the parade in its appeal.

"Being the Year of the Rat, the leader of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, it is not only the beginning of a new cycle but it also marks the 25th edition of Lunar New Year celebrations," he said. "This provides a perfect opportunity to celebrate the much-loved festival in a new way."

Hung acknowledged that continuing political troubles had a major bearing on festive arrangements.

"But one of the most important reasons for the change is we want to introduce new elements," he said. "The floats had to go due to constraints arising from the new venue. But we have grouped the performing teams together for parades."

Hung said the board will spend HK$42 million on the carnival. Last year's parade cost HK$34 million.

Celebrations will run from 2pm to 8pm on January 25, 27 and 28, and from 2pm to 5pm on January 26.

Twenty-six international performing troupes will join the carnival, the highest number for any new year celebration. With 22 local acts, it means over 1,000 performers in parades and stage performances.

A parade will be held at 4.15pm on January 25 and 3pm on January 26. Then there will be two parades at 3pm and 6pm on January 27 and 28.

India's V Unbeatable, which rose to international fame through television's America's Got Talent, should wow audiences with signature dances and flipping.

And NBC's World of Dance champions Upeepz and Vpeepz from the Philippines will rock the stage with dynamic hip hop. There will also be giant installations by the promenade. Among them, a festive mouse will allow visitors to run inside it. And aloft will be an inflated caterpillar from Eric Carle's story The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

A market with 15 booths will offer food while workshops will feature on balloon twisting and face painting.

A wishing tree will be set up at a Cathay Pacific booth, where visitors can fill in a card and toss it to tree branches.

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