Hong Kong New Year’s Eve Fireworks: What a Dud!


Where to Watch Fireworks Hong Kong New Years Eve is part of the TPOL Down Under Trip Report.

Did I miss the fireworks? ‎That’s what I found myself asking after standing out in the cold for two hours at the Central Pier in Hong Kong for NYE. Before I get into that, here’s background info that I wish I knew before going.

Harbour Cruise
Inspired by Rush Hour, I thought a cruise on Hong Kong Bay would be a great way to usher in the new year. Instead of standing around the harbour with thousands of people jostling for a spot, I would have unobstructed views of the fireworks. I chose not to go because the only cruise available was $200 and lasted for four hours. That’s way too much time to be on a boat and way too much money to joyride around the harbour. For less than 50 cents, I have taken the ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. That’s one of the best deals in the world and a must do if you go to Hong Kong.

Fireworks Hong Kong Island
I chose to stay on Hong Kong Island in order to watch the fireworks and then go to‎ Lan Kwai Fung for the festivities. There are many options for viewing the fireworks, but I went to the Central Pier because of its proximity to the Courtyard and LKF.

What time to arrive?
I Googled “When should TPOL go to the Central Pier on NYE to get a good spot for the fireworks?” Surprisingly, nothing came up. The only advice was to get there early. I called the concierge who said to arrive between 8 or 9. Hitting the snooze too many times, I didn’t leave the hotel till well past nine and arrived at the pier around ten. That was way too early. If you’re Googling this, I can confidently tell you that you can arrive just before midnight and find a good viewing spot. You won’t be up in the front directly overlooking the harbour but 1.) I suspect those people arrive quite early in the evening. 2.) Fireworks are in the sky. Unless you are standing directly below Mr. Larson from Happy Gilmore, you’ll see everything just fine. 3.) There’s absolutely nothing happening before midnight.

The Lead Up
There was no music, no light show, absolutely nothing before midnight. The Internet said that there would be a baby fireworks display at 11PM. Standing in silence, I waited. 11PM came and went. Nothing happened. I stood in the same spot, too cold to consume my Tiger beer, which was only the second in my abbreviated 7 Eleven Game (see How to Explore Hong Kong on Foot).

Hong Kong Drinking Game

What day is it? Nothing going on.

The countdown clock was on the ICC building, but it only counted down by the minute. I recall yelling, “Two minutes!” to the quiet, orderly, subdued crowd then, “One minute!” After that, I didn’t know it was midnight until the fireworks went off.

Over the years, I’ve seen the Hong Kong fireworks on CNN‎ and how they impressively consumed Hong Kong Harbour. In person, I regret to say that I was disappointed. Maybe I’m spoiled by Disney because I didn’t see anything special that night. There was no Bellagio fountain production. It was just blast after blast culminating in more blasts.

It’s Over?
The crowded seemed to share my sentiment. When the bombing stopped, the crowd let out a satirical ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’. Then everyone made his/her way from the harbour in search of warmth and beer.

To quote Big as I often do, “I don’t get it.” The pictures show the nice colors of the fireworks and how the colors reflect on the water with the same boat in the foreground. The crowd size shows how this is a notable event that people from all around the world come to see. But the show itself was not worth coming out early to see even if the night were not so cold.

In retrospect, am I glad I went? Yes. Would I recommend going? Probably. Will I return? No. My firework watching days are over, no matter where in the world I am.

Central Pier that way, LKF the other way!


  1. Wow. Good information, if not all that cheering. For starters, Hong Kong and cold get along like Las Vegas and subdued. I didn’t know that they COULD get cold there. I’m dragging (metaphorically) my wife there for Chinese New Year. Not our first time in Hong Kong, but don’t know what to expect given the festivities. Any suggestions for a poor Gwai?

    • That could get wild. Was always told to avoid Shanghai during that time because it’s just a bunch of kids setting off m80s. Hong Kong may be the same.

  2. wrong new year lol. Go for Chinese NYE as most of that partner of Asia couldn’t care less about wester NYE. they do a weak show for westerners.

  3. Ha! We went 2017 and booked a suite at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong on the island. Great view over the convention center and didn’t have to leave the room. I have to say, not the extravaganza we thought it would be. Glad we didn’t leave the room, but still worth it for the bucket list.

  4. I find NYE fireworks/festivities are invariably disappointing, and not really worth the hassle. Of the many cities I have visited on NYE, the London fireworks/festivities have been by far the most fun.

  5. Looking at your photos, I would be disappointed too if that is what I saw. However, it was a fantastic experience for me because I got a PERFECT front row view. I saw it from the outside terrace of the Intercontinental Hotel. From my location it was absolutely spectacular! The most amazing and exciting fireworks show I had ever seen. Because I was so close, it totally filled the sky in front of me and the noise was deafening. What you saw on CNN is the amazing scene you get when you are viewing it from a great location, not the lousy one where you watched it from. Frankly, your location was terrible. Thanks for posting the photos because now I know to only watch it from a great location or don’t bother. Send me an email if you want and I can send you a link to the video I took. PS: I totally dislike CNN, but their video of the fireworks is actually correct.

  6. The nightly light shows are a bit less “showy” and shorter than we were expecting when we visited in December. Not horrible, just not as great as I thought based on all the hype.

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