Waterfront bazaars, evening activities at theme parks and museums, free entry to the Happy Valley Racecourse, film screenings and expanded pedestrian areas were among the highlights of a major campaign to revitalise nightlife announced by Hong Kong’s finance chief on Thursday.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po also announced at the opening ceremony for the “Night Vibes Hong Kong” campaign that more than 80 malls would broadcast English Premier League football matches.
However, a number of the activities were regular events, such as fireworks on National Day, the signature Wine & Dine Festival, Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance during Mid-Autumn Festival, and the New Year countdown. But some were resuming for the first time since the pandemic subsided.
“People can go with friends for dining, then for drinks and watch a movie before going home, families can have family time, too, to enjoy a series of festivals,” he said at the launch, which took place at M+ museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District.
The finance chief said that as the city entered its third quarter, although much of society had “returned to normal”, flights and tourists entering Hong Kong had yet to fully recovery to pre-pandemic levels, and spending power in the city still needed some time to completely recover.
The lifestyle and habits of locals had also changed, he said.
“People are going out less, and a lot of restaurants and stores are closing earlier. Sometimes, things are already quiet by 9pm.”
The government campaign aiming to boost Hong Kong’s ailing night economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic was announced after Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu last week said he had ordered plans to revive the city’s nightlife, emphasising the need for ongoing efforts instead of a one-off event.
Authorities on Thursday said the initial phase of the drive would span across several major coming holidays – Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day in October, Christmas and New Year, as well Lunar New Year next February.
Other campaign highlights include three night bazaars along the Wan Chai promenade, and the waterfront areas in Kwun Tong and Belcher Bay in Kennedy Town.
Chan said the tourism board was in discussions with stakeholders to rejuvenate the Temple Street night market in Yau Ma Tei.
Three museums in Tsim Sha Tsui – Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Science Museum and the Hong Kong Space Museum – will extend opening hours to 10pm from Friday to Sunday and public holidays.
M+ museum at the West Kowloon art hub will organise workshops at night while historic site Tai Kwun in Central will hold evening performances and art activities over a six-month period.
Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, earlier said the Wan Chai bazaar would offer 60 to 70 booths with mostly snacks, light meals, shows and performances, and would tentatively run for 16 days.
He stressed that it was important to ensure the markets would not directly compete with struggling restaurants for dinner business.
Wong also urged authorities to offer subsidies for rent at the bazaars to attract art groups and individual artists, as the current rate of about HK$20,000 was too expensive.
Ocean Park and Disneyland, the two major theme parks in the city, will also take part in the night shows and Halloween events, while various shopping centres such as Langham Place in Mong Kok, Times Square in Causeway Bay and those under Henderson Land, Sino Group and Sun Hung Kai Properties, will participate by putting on shows and offering shopping discounts.
To make it easier for residents to head home, the MTR Corporation will offer passengers a free trip for every five rides after 10.30pm.
The list of activities also includes other regular events such as fireworks on National Day, the signature Wine & Dine festival and new year countdown.
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