hongkong
Credit: Hong Kong Tourist Board

Prior to 1976, the game of rugby did not have a high profile in Asia. How things have changed! That year saw the kick-off of the rather low-key Hong Kong Rugby Sevens competition that, in the intervening years, has grown into one of the biggest and most popular rugby events on the international sporting calendar. Now every March, teams from the world’s top rugby nations gather in Hong Kong to compete in lightning-fast, seven-a-side, 15-minute matches in front of 40,000 thrilled spectators. And the action is not confined to the Hong Kong Stadium. The excitement spills over into the whole city to create a celebratory carnival. It’s a great time to be in Hong Kong. Mark your calendars 28-30 March for this event.

But what of those with no tickets to see the games? No need to worry! The HK Fan Zone offers six days of free entertainment by the waterfront, with large out-door screens projecting all the live action directly from the stadium. Along with live music, delicious food and drink, ‘drop-ins’ from players and lots of family fun, it’s (almost) as good as being there! And don’t forget it’s free.

Rugby certainly has a great many fans among Hong Kong residents and visitors, but Hong Kong’s most popular sport is horse-racing … it sets the whole city abuzz. The atmosphere at the tracks is exhilarating, the betting is feverish and there are potentially huge rewards for all as some of the world’s finest jockeys and horses come together on the turf. And now there are special tours to take visitors into the heart of the action. Choose between the day-time races at Sha Tin or the evening races at Happy Valley on most Wednesday evenings and at week-ends throughout the September to July season. As they watch the action, tour participants will enjoy the stylish surroundings of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Members’ Enclosure along with an international buffet, unlimited drinks and a $30 betting voucher to start the gambling. These are sure to be thrilling and memorable outings.

Come watch the rugby, come see the racing … and come to the ice rink too! Visitors are invited to head to the Beehive atrium of the MegaBox in Kowloon Bay where the only international-size ice-rink in Hong Kong is to be found. With its 30-metre glass window providing views of the harbour, this fine facility offers world-class ice sports – hockey, figure and speed skating – as well as performances and shows, concerts, exhibitions and skating for everyone. It’s all about fun and fitness … a winning combination. The 2014 Mega Ice Hockey 5s will be held here from 28 April to 10 May.

Of course Hong Kong shines in the cultural sphere as well as the sporting one. From 24 March to 13 April there will be a variety of events organized under the umbrella known as Entertainment Expo Hong Kong. This is a glitzy extravaganza that attracts leading players from a variety of genres to Hong Kong every year. The events include the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market (FILMART), the 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony (HKFA), the Hong Kong Film Festival and the Asian Pop-Music Festival as well as the cutting-edge creations that fall under the title ‘incubator for film and visual media in Asia’ known as ifva.

And then come the French and Italians! Yes, this spring Hong Kong will be playing host to Le French May Arts Festival (2 May – 28 June) and the Made in Italy: Quality and Lifestyle Exhibition (from 2 June). The French festival will include world-class events that aim to bring the spirit of France to Hong Kong, with classical and contemporary music, visual arts, dance, cinema, multi-arts performances and, of course, food and wine, to be showcased in a stand-alone programme called Le French GourMay.

The Italians will also be making their presence felt with their own festival that will also include fine food and wines as well as a selection of Italian cultural events including cinema, music and theatre. Both festivals will provide a fascinating time to be in Hong Kong, where Eastern and Western cultures have long been meeting.

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