All right, so you have settled into your hotel, you have ordered room service, you are all set for your big meeting tomorrow and you are bored. What to do? Never fear, the answer is here! Movies, dance, music, museums or horse racing, one thing is for sure: Hong Kong will not disappoint.
Cantonese Opera: For the Shrill of it All
In a style that critics describe as "the sound of cats mating to music," the proud tradition of Cantonese Opera is alive and well in Hong Kong. Actually, learning a little about this art form beforehand, and getting a synopsis of the plot, can make watching Cantonese Opera very bearable. The costumes and stylized gestures, along with the often acrobatic dancing and high-pitched singing, make for a unique entertainment experience.
There are several varieties of Chinese Opera, but the Cantonese style tends to have the most outstanding physical choreography. The form is now taught in a special programme at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and performances can be seen at many venues around town. Civic theatres such as the Shatin Town Hall, or the North District Town Hall will happily provide more information. In addition, there is often a major opera company performing at the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival
in February and March.
Canto Pop: Not Suitable for Diabetics
Canto Pop is the term used to describe Hong Kong's particular brand of pop music. Think Celine Dion meets Karaoke. Sugary and upbeat, it is definitely an acquired taste! However, if a good, clean melodic puppy-love tune is the order of the day, then Canto Pop is the answer.
The best way to hear Canto Pop is to ride the local buses, on which loudspeakers pipe in local radio broadcasts. For anyone hankering after a live performance, there are the occasional concerts at the Hong Kong Coliseum or the Queen Elizabeth Stadium by huge stars like Faye Wong, Andy Lau or Leon Lai.
Dance: Something for Everyone
Most of the city's arts festivals feature dance as a major component. Whether it be ballet, modern dance or the traditional Chinese Lion Dance, there is usually lots of movement to be found at venues such as the Hong Kong Arts Centre, Shatin Town Hall, Kwai Tsing Theatre, and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
The Hong Kong Ballet performs strong renditions of classical ballets, while the City Contemporary Dance Company creates modern, innovative pieces. The colourful "Lion Dance" is usually performed at the opening of new businesses, at weddings or at other events where the organizers want to ward off evil spirits. Chinese New Year
is a great time to see a lion dance on the street or near a temple.
Theatre: What a Buzz
Aside from the many major international touring productions that stop off in Hong Kong, there is a lot going on in the local theatre scene, both in Cantonese and English. The Fringe Club is the hub of theatre activity in town. It also puts on the annual City Festival
, a multi-disciplinary festival that features a blend of up-and-coming theatre artists with more well-known performers. In addition, the Kwai Tsing Theatre lines up a challenging season of new commissioned works as well as classics.
Movies: Everybody was Kung-fu Fighting
Most people think Hong Kong cinema is all about violence and martial arts and they are right, for the most part. Heroes such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan have spawned a whole slew of violent martial arts films with overblown tragic plots and fast action.
Aside from seeing the latest films, sitting in a big, comfy, air-conditioned theatre, such as the AMC Festival Walk, can also be a great way to escape the heat of summer.
As well as all the usual cinematic offerings, there is a strong indie film scene, mainly featured at the Hong Kong International Film Festival
, while art house and foreign films can be found at venues such as the Goethe-Institut (mainly German-language films) and the Broadway Cinemateque.
Museums and Galleries: So Much to Do, So Little Time
From the scientific rigors of the Space Museum to the modern art installations in the galleries at the Fringe Club, from the informative and unique Law Uk Folk Museum to the bizarre (and definitely worth a visit) Police Museum, there is no shortage of cultural venues in Hong Kong. Of course, there is also the Hong Kong Cultural Centre
, and the fantastic Marine Land at Ocean Park
, and a quick stroll through Central will reveal many intriguing little antique stores and galleries, so take your pick!
To experience the complete insanity of a crowd in Hong Kong, a visit to one of the city's horse-racing tracks - the Happy Valley Racecourse or the Shatin Racecourse
- is a must. Intense gambling and socializing mixed with the excitement of first-rate horse racing; who knows - you might come away a big winner!
Essential Booking Information
Cityline: (+852) 2314 4228 URBTIX: (+852) 2734 9009 Hong Kong Tourist Association: (+852) 2508 1234