Millennium extravaganza segues into Chinese New Year fests

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong is set to ring in both the new millennium and the Year of the Dragon with a roster of special events between November and February.

Although many details have yet to be finalized, a preliminary list of major events recently was released by the Hong Kong Tourist Association.

Kicking off the celebration will be a massive harborfront tea party at Tamar site (the former British Navy base). horse race Billed as the World's Largest Tea Party, the Nov. 28 event is expected to draw some 10,000 participants to brew and drink the quintessential Chinese beverage.

Hong Kong will partake in a less sedate event during the Millennium Illumination -- City of Light and Sound contest held December through February. During the contest, which is staged every year during the holiday season, local businesses sponsor elaborate light displays to vie for top honors.

New Year's Eve itself will feature a Millennium Extravaganza at the Happy Valley Racecourse. During the celebration, craftsmen from Mainland China and Hong Kong will present a display of 50 giant lanterns as a backdrop to a massive dragon dance -- including representatives from all of Hong Kong's 18 districts -- and lantern festival at the horse-racing facility.

The show also will put the spotlight on top local pop artists who will perform for the crowd. The Happy Valley Racecourse plans to hold seven races Dec. 31, with a Millennium Cup race, organized by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, held shortly after midnight.

Other plans for ringing in the millennium and Chinese New Year include a Millennium Night Fever theme at Hong Kong Island's Lan Kwai Fong food quarter, Kowloon's Khutsford Terrace area and other night spots. From December through February, special dining offers and entertainment will be presented to revelers.

Other food-related holiday happenings include the Hong Kong Gourmet Delights promotion, also from December through February, in which diners can partake of special millennium menus for about $26 per person at select restaurants throughout Hong Kong.

Of course, on Millennium Eve, drums and bells will sound from churches and temples, and broadcasts on giant television walls will document the countdown throughout the destination.

The post-millennium festivities will culminate with the Feb. 5 Parade of Dragons celebrating the Chinese New Year. The annual parade winds through Hong Kong Island and boasts colorful dragon dancers; floats; street entertainers; musicians and marching bands, and cultural and dance troupes from around the world.

Several other major events will coincide with the millennium and Chinese New Year celebrations, including:

  • The Hong Kong Products Expo 1999, organized by the Chinese Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong and held from December until mid-January, will feature a wide selection of products such as leather goods, jewelry and furniture. This year's event, held at Tamar site, is expected to contain more than 600 booths and will carry the theme "Advancing into the New Millennium."
  • Cirque du Soleil will perform its Saltimbanco production from late January through early April at its specially designed, 2,500-seat big top on the waterfront at Tamar.
  • The Hong Kong Arts Festival 2000 will be held Feb. 2 through March 12 at various sites throughout Hong Kong and will feature top regional and international artists.
  • The Spirit of Flight will visit Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport site from early December through mid-May and will showcase more than 40 large replicas of aircraft and other flying machines dating from the birth of flight to the space shuttle.
  • For more information about millennium, Chinese New Year and other events, contact the Hong Kong Tourist Association at (800) 282-HKTA. The HKTA maintains a Web site at www.hkta.org.

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