How To Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival In Hong Kong

You may have heard of Mid-Autumn Festival, but what exactly is it and how is it celebrated in Hong Kong?

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the origins of the festival and why it continues to be important to this day.

When is Mid-Autumn Festival?

Always coinciding with the full moon on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, China’s equivalent to the annual harvest festival is celebrated each year in strict accordance with the lunar calendar.

2020’s Mid-Autumn Festival will take place on Thursday 1st October.

The Legend Behind the Mid-Autum Festival

Mid Autumn Illustration

An ancient Chinese traditional custom that goes back nearly three thousand years, the Festival was most likely established as a communal celebration for the annual harvest, but also has some interesting folklore behind it. While some believe that the festival pays tribute to a mythical dragon that brought much-needed rain to farmers’ crops, a more common version of the Mid-Autumn tale focuses on Chang’E, goddess of the moon and her husband, Yi the Archer.

The story has it that there were once ten suns in the sky, scorching the crops and causing great famine. Eventually, Yi deftly shot down nine, leaving just one sun. Rewarded for his skill with the elixir of life, Yi entrusted the potion to his loyal wife, Chang’E and went out hunting. In his absence, a thief threatened to steal the elixir from Chang’E. Fearing it was about to fall into the wrong hands,  she drank it herself and escaped to the moon, where she could watch over her beloved husband for eternity. Yi gave tribute to his lost love by leaving offerings of food and drink each night – traditions that continue to this day, along with burning incense and performing lion dances in her honour.


The Story of the Jade Rabbit

Mid Autumn Rabbit lantern

Another famous Mid-Autumn tale centres around the tale of the Jade Rabbit. The legend goes that three immortals were sent to earth by the Jade Emperor to identify a suitable animal custodian for the precious elixir of life. The immortals, disguised as destitute peasants, went into the forest where they came across a fox, a monkey and a rabbit.

Appearing quite starving, the immortals begged for some sustenance from the three. Both the fox and the monkey immediately offered the poor strangers some food. However, the rabbit, who had no food to give, instead offered herself up as a meal, jumping straight into the immortals’ campfire. So impressed were the immortals by the rabbit’s sacrifice, that they decided to send her to the moon to live forever. This is why the revered rabbit now lives on the moon alongside Chang’E, working forever more as a custodian of heavenly medicine.

Mid Autumn TST

Another significant part of the tributes to Chang’E are the colourful lanterns that light the night sky over Mid-Autumn Festival. Said to allow the goddess to more easily see her followers on Earth. The displaying of intricate lanterns continues to this day, with Hong Kong Island’s Victoria Park displaying and selling them in their hundreds.

Another top spot for lantern lovers is the display in front of the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui, where the Hong Kong skyline provides the perfect backdrop to this colourful and festive display.



Mid Autumn Mooncakes

Of course, like most other Chinese festivals, food takes centre stage at Mid-Autumn, with mooncakes being a particularly popular way to mark the occasion. While you can find a vast array of themed mooncakes with an endless selection of different fillings, the traditional variety consists of a beautifully designed pastry, filled with lotus seed paste and a rich salted duck egg.

These rich cakes are designed to be eaten in small slices with a cup of hot tea. It often feels like a real shame to cut into the embossed pastry, so elaborate are the designs.

The giving and receiving of mooncakes is also very significant in Hong Kong culture, with every high-end hotel in the city offering their own lavishly packaged version of this traditional classic with which to wow your friends, family and business associates.


Family Gatherings

Mid Autumn dinner family

The famous Song Dynasty poet Su Shi wrote “May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart” and this spirit of family reunion persists to this day. Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a time for families to gather and reconnect over a reunion dinner.

After dinner, families will typically go “moon-gazing” to admire the full yellow harvest moon as it orbits at its closest point to the earth – a magical sight at this time of year.

Find out More About Chinese Myths and Legends

In Chinese culture, the Lunar calendar carries great significance. Find out more about the Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Chinese myths and legends in Hong Kong, we recommend you join one of our private walking tours.  We’d love to show you some of the many ways that these stories are celebrated and immortalised in Hong Kong’s temples, architecture and also at Repulse Bay’s colourful Lifeguards’ Pavillion.

Top Ten Parks In Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Greeters Guide

It may come as some surprise to those familiar with Hong Kong’s famously frenetic bustle, but Hong Kong is home to some truly exceptional public parks. Perfect for whiling away a few hours, we’ve picked out ten of our favourite spots – all of which offering something a little bit different. So, whether you’re looking for a dose of urban chill, some fascinating history or space for sports, read on for Hong Kong Greeters’ guide to the city’s top ten parks.

Hong Kong Island’s Best Parks

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park

Stretching across eight hectares of prime Central real estate, Hong Kong Park sits on the site of the colonial-era Victoria Barracks garrison. Its colonial past is evidenced in its buildings, which include ex-married quarters residence Cassels Block, now accommodating the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, and the picturesque Museum of Teaware at Flagstaff House. Aside from its colonial-era architecture, you’ll find a well-equipped multi-level children’s playground, a pretty central lake teeming with koi, a tropical plant conservatory, and the Edward Youde Aviary. This 3,000 square metre netted space is home to 70 bird species, and is guaranteed to charm the entire family, from excitable toddlers to surly teens.

Address: 19 Cotton Tree Drive, Central Hong Kong

Getting there: Admiralty MTR, C1 exit


Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Hong Kong Zoological Gardens

Nestled in Central’s upper slopes across Garden Road, the Hong Kong Zoological and
Botanical Gardens has been a firm favourite since 1864. Spilt in half by Albany Road, the Old Garden’s main draws are is its grand central fountain garden, flamingos and painstakingly grown hothouse flowers. Meanwhile, the New Garden features both mammal and reptile houses, where you’ll find playful gibbons, industrious meercats and sleepy sloths enjoying stunning cityscape views. A great hop-off point from the Peak Tram is heading out for a full day of adventure.

Address: Albany Road, Central, Hong Kong

Getting there: Peak Tram, MacDonnell Road station


Victoria Peak

Peak Galleria PlaygroundAlready the site of some of Hong Kong’s most breath-taking views, The Peak also boasts some truly lovely parks – ideal for a breather to escape the crowds! The prettily-lawned Victoria Peak Gardens was once the grounds of the Hong Kong Governor’s summer home and has since been reclaimed as a public park, offering sweeping views over Hong Kong’s southwestern side. Meanwhile, Mount Austin Playground is an attractive British-style garden with plenty to offer the younger members of the family. Another picnic-friendly lawn opens to a large play space complete with climbing frames for kids to enjoy while  parents relax on the Victorian-style wrought-iron benches nearby. A little closer to the action, the revamped Peak Galleria Playground offers children with energy to burn plenty to keep them busy! Climbing frames, balance beams and puzzle walls keep kids busy – look up to enjoy the stained-glass effect from the shadow roofs above.

Address: 118 Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong

Getting there: Peak Tram, Peak Tower Station or Bus 15 from Central Star Ferry pier


Quarry Bay Park

Fireboat Alexander GranthamHead east along the Island Line to enjoy a wide-open waterfront space with plenty of play equipment and some Hong Kong history thrown in for good measure! This two-zone park features basketball and tennis courts, a rare-in-HK cycle track, and well-maintained changing facilities. It also features one of Hong Kong Island’s biggest and best playgrounds,packed with ramps, frames, beams, swings, slides… you name it and they have it. The Park also has an extra-special attraction in the form of the Fireboat Alexander Grantham. This retired fire service vessel patrolled Victoria Harbour for 50 years, keeping the city’s busy shipping port safe and operational before its eventual retirement in 2002. It was permanently relocated to Quarry Bay Park in 2006 to act as an exhibition venue, and now offers a fascinating – and free of charge – insight into Hong Kong’s 20th century maritime history.

Fireboat Alexander Grantham

Address: Hoi Tai Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Getting there: Tai Koo MTR Station, exit E1 or Quarry Bay MTR Station, exit B1


Kowloon’s Best Parks

Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park

Kai Tak Cruise Terminal ParkFor something completely different, how about a day exploring what was once considered
one of the world’s most challenging airport runways? Designed by Foster+ Partners and
built on the site of the old Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong’s shiny new cruise terminal building runs the length of the old runway, jutting into Victoria Harbour and offering a whole new perspective on this city from its rooftop park. As well as those showstopping views across Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, this quirky park has plenty of space for kids to run, along with large lawns, a splash-pad water play area in which to cool off, and comfy benches – arrive later in the day to enjoy the sunset before grabbing a bite downstairs at one of the cruise terminal’s restaurants.

Address: 33 Shing Fung Road, Kai Tak, Kowloon

Getting there: Minibus 86 from Kowloon Bay MTR station (Telford Plaza)


Kowloon Walled City Park

Kowloon Walled City Park

Kowloon Walled City Park was opened in 1995 on the site of what was once a walled
garrison-city but that was later to gain infamy as Hong Kong’s hotbed of crime. In the period following World War Two, this lawless former tenement area became known for its drug dens, organised crime and thriving unlicensed dentistry industry. Happily, these days the former no-go district is a delightful Qing Dynasty-inspired park that features eight themed floral walks, pretty pavilions and fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibition areas that breathe colour into the park’s darker side.

Address: Kowloon City, Kowloon

Getting there: Sun Wong Hoi MTR station (2021), bus 1 from Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry pier


West Kowloon Art Park

West Kowloon Art ParkPart of the landmark West Kowloon Cultural District development, the two-kilometre-long West Kowloon Art Park will eventually link up to Tsim Sha Tsui to create a world-class
waterfront walkway. For now, the park offers a pet- and family-friendly harbourfront space with plenty of space for families to cycle, scoot and run unhindered. The lawned Nursery Park and Art Park are ideal for ball games and picnics, while a good selection of cafes and restaurants are on hand to keep peckish families happy. Hire a SmartBike from the kiosks near the entrance, and explore the entire site, which includes the striking M+ Pavilion exhibition space, Freespace, the city’s largest black box theatre venue, and of course those iconic Hong Kong harbour views.

Address: West Kowloon Cultural District, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Getting there: Kowloon MTR Station, Exit E4


Po Kong Village Road Park

Po Kong Village Park
Anyone who has spent time in Hong Kong’s parks will already be familiar with the litany of
rules that specify no cycling, skating or scooting… in fact, it can sometimes feel as though
the city’s parks are designed to be as fun-free as possible! Happily, Po Kong Village Road
Park is designed for families who love freewheeling, with a generous kilometre-long elevated cycle track, separate learner-friendly cycle area for kids who are still a little wobbly on wheels, and a skatepark complete with ramps, dips and kerbs galore for practicing those tricks and flips. And that’s not all – three separate areas are jam-packed with play equipment, while you’ll also find excellent football, rugby and cricket facilities here, including practice nets. Add in a shady amphitheatre and a fascinating exhibition of photovoltaic power, complete with wind turbine, and you have a full day out to enjoy here.

Address: 140 Po Kong Village Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon

Getting there: Diamond Hill MTR station, then minibus 19M


The New Territories’ Best Parks

Ma On Shan Park

Ma On Shan Park
Located along the edge of the Tolo Harbour, this five-and-a-half-hectare park features an interesting display that details the Ma On Shan’s history as a mining town. Entering the park, there is a pleasant circular lawn bordered by a spacious picnic area, floral garden and a number of shaded pavilions that are ideal for escaping the mid-day sun. One of the park’s main attractions is its fun maze garden, which along with the well-designed playground, is an enduring hit with children. For a full day of fun, combine with a visit to the adjacent Ma On Shan public pool, a sprawling complex of pools, slides, fountains. On the opposite side of the park, there is even a small paddling beach, known as Wu Kai Sha Pebbles beach, the choice is yours!

Address: 12 On Chun Street, Ma On Shan, New Territories

Getting there: Ma On Shan MTR station, exit A


Siu Lek Yuen Road Adventure Cycling Arena

Hong Kong Shatin Bicycle TourAnother one that’s ideal for keen cyclists, Sha Tin’s Siu Lek Yuen Road Playground offers an adventure cycling course for proficient bikers, along with a children’s cycling track for beginners to cut their teeth. The course is packed with ramps, loops, twists and turns that promise to sharpen skills while fulfilling the need for speed – you can even cycle at night as the course is floodlit. Those not wishing to join the two-wheeled revolution can opt for a more sedate day enjoying the bowling green, and you’ll also find tennis courts, play equipment and plenty of plant life to explore.

Address: 1 Siu Lek Yuen Road, Shatin, New Territories

Getting there: Shek Man MTR station, exit B

If there are any you think we have missed that are worthy of a mention, please get in touch