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Hong Kong's many Chinese festivals are one of its great attractions, and not simply because you get the day off work. Most festivals revolve around families getting together and spending time celebrating. They are noisy, exuberant and colourful. It is well worth the effort to get involved, even if only as a spectator, in at least one of the festivals listed below.

Lunar New Year

Around the beginning of February is Chinese, or lunar, New Year. It is an important festival, as it is the time to set yourself up properly for the coming year. Housecleaning, buying new clothes, getting a haircut, these are all done before the new year arrives. People buy flowers from vast, specially arranged flower markets in the city centre (usually Victoria Park, between Causeway Bay and North Point) and visit with their relatives. There are huge fireworks displays, and people give Lai See, or lucky money to children and employees.

Learn the expression "Kung Hei Fat Choi", for everyone will be saying it, and you should return the greeting.

Ching Ming

Ching Ming is the spring grave-sweeping festival in April, where families head to the cemeteries and spruce up their ancestors' grave-sites and make offerings that will ensure the dead have sufficient money and food in the afterlife.

Tuen Ng Festival

Hong Kong celebrates this festival with Dragon Boat races. The tradition began in the third century BC, apparently after fishermen tried to rescue a despondent government official who had thrown himself in the river. Now this is an international event for Hong Kong, attended by thousands on the fifth day of the fifth month, on June 6th in 2000.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Falling in September, this festival celebrates the 14th Century uprising against the Mongols. Children are indulged in this festival, and choose lanterns and take them into the hills with their parents to watch the moon rise. Traditional moon cakes are eaten.

Chung Yeung Festival

On the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (usually October) Hong Kong people climb to the highest point they can find. The festival had no great early significance until the British came to Hong Kong. Since then it has grown in popularity, so that now the hiking tails are crowded for Chung Yeung.