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Spectacular red, green and gold pyrotechnics sparkle in the night sky above Victoria Harbour. Photo: Eugene Lee

Hong Kong Lunar New Year fireworks: dragon pyrotechnics wow 338,000 spectators as display returns after 5 years

  • Crowds flocked to vantage points on both sides of the harbour for 23-minute show on second day of the Year of the Dragon
  • A total of 23,888 firework shells lit up the night sky in eight scenes
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Massive crowds gathered on both sides of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour on Sunday to watch the city’s first Lunar New Year fireworks display since 2019.

The 23-minute show began at 8pm on the second day of the Year of the Dragon, with thousands of people earlier flocking to the best vantage points at the West Kowloon Cultural District, the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, and promenades in Wan Chai and Central.

Police said 338,000 people watched the show from both sides of the harbour.

A total of 23,888 firework shells were fired from three vessels in the harbour to light up the night sky with eight scenes, forming shapes of gold ingots, dragon eggs and many more designs.

Spectators say the display was amazing. Photo: Dickson Lee

The pyrotechnics display – back after being suspended because of anti-government protests followed by the pandemic – had a theme of thriving trade in the Year of the Dragon and a strong China in a prosperous era.

Various roads in Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai and Central started closing in stages from 5pm. Police urged spectators to take public transport as public car parks in Tsim Sha Tsui were almost full.

Some Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station exits closed temporarily from around 6pm but reopened after the display.

Here are updates on the much-anticipated display:

Crowds disperse

Once the display ended, crowds at the Central harbourfront headed away in a slow and orderly fashion.

Police could be seen removing pedestrian control barriers as early as 9pm, while travellers made their way through the nearby Admiralty MTR station largely without delay.

‘Sky blooming with fireworks’

Primary Five pupil Sunny Chung, 11, was wide-eyed and all smiles when the fireworks wrapped up.

His father, Heywood Chung, 60, who works at a trading company, said it was the first fireworks his son had seen since the pandemic.

“I was so excited,” said Sunny, who lives in Hung Hom. “It was super beautiful and amazing. My favourite part was the end. The sky was blooming with fireworks.”

Shenzhen couple Wu Jingya, 30, and Zhou Huaqing, 27, who were visiting the city for the day, said they were awe-struck by the huge display of light and sound.

“It was amazing,” said Wu, who works in inventory management for a supermarket chain. “My favourite parts were when the smiley faces appeared. I loved that part.”

The display ran for 23 minutes and prompted “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowds. Photo: Eugene Lee

Peace and prosperity

The performance also featured colourful fireworks of red, green, blue, purple and gold, showing shapes of flowers, as well as “cosmic balls” that signified boundless sky and earth to wish residents a bright future.

Fireworks of smiling faces and red hearts were also seen in the sky in a bid to bestow residents with positivity and enthusiasm.

The eight-scene show had different themes, including one featuring the song “You Raise Me Up” to show respect to the older generation.

The show ended with pyrotechnics shaped like gold ingots, and an intense 30-second barrage of mega-sized brocade crowns to wish Hong Kong prosperity and peace in the year to come.

A golden glow lights up the sky above Victoria Harbour. Photo: Dickson Lee

Off we go

The long-awaited show started with silver lightning and thunder welcoming the Year of the Dragon. The first scene lasted around two minutes.

The second scene, “Happy New Year”, included classic new year music and showcased the lucky number “eight” in red, symbolising wealth and abundance.

Thousands lining the harbourfront erupted into “oohs” and “ahhs”. Children could be heard shouting “beautiful” and “amazing”.

At the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Dickson Lee

‘No worries about travel home’

Mainlander Guo Yubo, 28, and his family were marking the last day of their two-day visit to the city by seeing the fireworks before they headed home via the Shenzhen border crossing later on Sunday.

Guo, who was with his wife, mother and brother, said he wanted his family to see Hong Kong after coming for an exchange programme at City University last year.

“Hong Kong is beautiful,” he said. “I enjoyed the culture when I was here so I wanted them to visit.”

Guo said they would take the MTR back to Shenzhen after the display, but despite having heard about travel chaos after the New Year’s Eve fireworks he was not concerned.

“The government has opened up [the border crossings] longer,” he said. “We’re not worried about this at all.”

Spectators wait for the fireworks at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. Photo: Eugene Lee

‘Prosperous chapter’

Chief Executive John Lee gave new year blessings and highlighted activities around the city in a speech at a ceremony organised by the Hong Kong Celebrations Association.

“All the Lunar New Year activities will open a prosperous chapter for Hong Kong’s efforts in boosting the economy, development and well-being of the people in the coming year,” Lee said.

He noted the city would organise its Lunar New Year Raceday on Monday and the Chinese New Year Cup, a football competition, on Tuesday, while different celebrations would be held across Hong Kong.

He also said Hong Kong would grasp its unique advantages with the support of the motherland and prosper on the international stage.

Mobiles at the ready to capture the awe-inspiring show. Photo: Dickson Lee

Family outing

Hongkonger Peggy Woo, 53, and her family were eating roast pork and other new year snacks as they waited for the show.

Woo said the family opted to stay in Hong Kong over the holiday to save money, enjoying some of the city’s own offerings such as hiking and yum cha.

“Last time, the New Year’s Eve fireworks were quite amazing,” she said. “So I told them we should come this time to enjoy the display together.”

Her daughter, Peony, 21, a nursing student, said she was enjoying the “vibes and ambience”, as the city marked the first Lunar New Year fireworks since the pandemic.

“We’re trying to get back to a normal life,” Peony said.

Amateur photographers are set up for the perfect shot. Photo: Eugene Lee

A father-daughter day

Wayne Xin Wen, a 40-year-old IT manager from Shanghai, arrived at the Central Harbourfront at around 5.30pm to make sure his 10-year-old daughter, Angela, got a good view of the fireworks.

“In mainland cities, they don’t have fireworks shows,” he said. “And we heard this is the first time in four years, so we hope there will be big and beautiful fireworks tonight.”

Wayne Xin and his daughter Angela eagerly wait for the fireworks. Photo: Connor Mycroft

Xin said he brought his daughter to Hong Kong for the holiday because she wanted to visit a new Disneyland park section based on the popular movie Frozen which opened last November.

The pair had already stayed in the city for two days and planned to remain there for three more, with the father saying he was glad Hong Kong was still showing signs of recovering from the pandemic since his last trip there eight months ago.

“We saw more and more people here this time,” he said. “We don’t see the impact of Covid-19 any more. It’s very nice.”

People have been gathering for hours to get prime viewing spots. Photo: Eugene Lee

‘Second fireworks show since Covid’

Hongkonger Emman, 29, and her sister, 17-year-old Amina, said they headed to the waterfront near Central to get a good view of the show. Emman, a teacher, said the pair were enjoying the “festive atmosphere” and a bit of time off.

“I’m excited because this will be the second fireworks we’ll have seen since Covid,” she said, with the first being a smaller-scale display during Winterfest in December.

Hong Kong welcomes 6 ‘dragon babies’ on first day of Lunar New Year

Clear skies expected

The Hong Kong Observatory said residents could expect a clear view of the fireworks thanks to a northeast monsoon bringing fine and dry weather to the coast of Guangdong.

“It is clear with a few clouds. The visibility is not bad. There shouldn’t be any clouds blocking the view of the fireworks,” scientific officer Lo Ka-wai said.

The weather was also set to be cooler after sunset, he added. Temperatures in the evening were expected to go as low as 13 degrees Celsius (55.4 Fahrenheit).

City leader gets prime view

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu watched the extravaganza from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai along with Zheng Yanxiong, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, and other dignitaries.

Hong Kong will ‘thrive like a dragon’ in new year, city leader John Lee says

Police officers set up crowd control barriers in Wan Chai. Photo: Eugene Lee

Lessons learned from New Year’s Eve chaos

Authorities extended operating hours at some border checkpoints to prevent a repeat of scenes following the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, when thousands of mainland Chinese visitors were left stranded.

The Shenzhen Bay checkpoint, which connects the western portion of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, would be open around the clock.

Those travelling via Hong Kong’s East Rail line would be able to cross at the Lo Wu control point, which would stay open until 2am on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang checkpoint is the only land crossing between Hong Kong and Shenzhen that remains open all day, every day.

How Hong Kong hopes to avoid repeat of New Year’s Eve’s border chaos

The MTR Corporation said it would run trains more frequently into the late hours of Sunday, but there would not be overnight services.

Only the cross-boundary train service would be extended, it added, with the last train to Lo Wu station departing from Admiralty at 12.56am and the final one going from Lo Wu to Admiralty heading off at 2.30am.

Franchised bus operator KMB will run overnight routes across the city, including a special service to help ease cross-border traffic.

Coach operators will also offer extra overnight cross-boundary services between urban areas such as Prince Edward, Yau Ma Tei and Wan Chai and the Shenzhen Bay crossing.

Take care on the water

The Marine Department urged people watching the display on boats to be mindful of safety while coxswains should refrain from speeding or overloading their vessels.