Hello, Hong Kong!

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 28, 2019.

Xiqu Centre.

Art Basel.

Tai Kwun.

HK Urban Canvas.

ARTLANE.

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March is the perfect time to explore Hong Kong’s cultural life, particularly the art scene. Throughout the month, visitors to this city are more than welcome to participate in the plethora of arts and cultural events around town, including the internationally renowned Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central. And with the latest cultural venues and street artworks that have emerged in recent months, this might be the ideal holiday for culture vultures looking for stimulating holiday.

 

Muse about international art at Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central

Be prepared for a lavish visual feast at Art Basel Hong Kong (March 29-31, 2019) and Art Central (March 27-31, 2019), the mainstay of Hong Kong Arts Month. Now in its seventh year, Art Basel Hong Kong will return to the conveniently located Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with 242 galleries from 36 countries, 21 of which are new to the show. Also boasting a strong line-up is Art Central, where over 100 galleries will showcase art from around the globe. The fifth edition will also feature carefully curated performances, large-scale installations, new media art and talks. Appreciating art aside, patrons will be served a riveting view of Victoria Harbour and the city’s signature skyline at the Central Harbourfront venue.

 

Check in at new cultural hotspots to capture a slice of history

Various important cultural venues have sprung up in the city over the past 10 months. One of them is Xiqu Centre, which opened in January this year. Dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Cantonese opera, the Xiqu Centre is noteworthy not simply for being the first venue in the much-anticipated West Kowloon Cultural District to open its doors, but also for its striking architectural design that juxtaposes traditional and modern elements. With a futuristic form and a steel structure, the eight-storey edifice is in fact a reinterpretation of the traditional Chinese lantern, whereas its façade is shaped to resemble the parted curtains on a performing stage. While admiring the architecture, visitors are encouraged to enjoy an intimate Cantonese opera viewing experience over traditional tea and dim sum at the Tea House Theatre.

Another recent talk of the town is The Mills, an innovation and cultural hub transformed from a textile factory. Situated in Tsuen Wan, once an industrial area and now a major residential district, The Mills celebrates the golden days of Hong Kong’s textile industry and carries on the legacy by nurturing the city’s creative talents. Inside the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT) that is set to open in March, visitors can learn about the history of Hong Kong’s textile industry and the current local and global textile arts landscape. Visitors are warmly invited to experience the manual cotton-spinning process using traditional spinning instruments at CHAT’s Welcome to the Spinning Factory! Exhibition. Starting from March 16, 2019, visitors can appreciate the array of contemporary textile arts displayed at the Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life Exhibition.

Another key heritage site worth visiting is Tai Kwun, one of the city’s largest heritage revitalisation project which took a decade and HK$3.8 billion to complete. Three iconic declared monuments are now part of this cultural destination that houses a world-standard contemporary art museum, some of the city’s chicest restaurants and boutiques. Apart from snapping and admiring the beauty, architecture and design of the complex, visitors coming during Hong Kong Arts Month can enjoy free site-specific performances, urban dance battles, community and contemporary dance, workshops and screenings in the [email protected] programme over two weekends (March 2-10, 2019).

 

Snap away in fascinating neighbourhoods for local street art

The art experience in Hong Kong is not limited to stand-alone events and places. Out in the open, art has penetrated the corners of different neighbourhoods, inviting the curious to explore these living “street art museums”. Take a stroll in Central, Sheung Wan and the latest “ARTLANE” in the hipster Sai Ying Pun area, where murals by local and overseas artists can be found on walls of old buildings and staircases, you will be able to shoot in front of many Instagram-famous street art and make your followers jealous; hunt for shutter art around Hong Kong painted by young local artists under an initiative aptly called “HK Urban Canvas”, depicting the unique personalities and stories behind local shops; and keep an eye out for buzzing street scenes, intriguing contrasts and all the oddities that make Hong Kong an exciting place.

 

More than meets the eye (and the lens)

Those who seek more sensory stimulation will find a plethora of performing arts events, the most notable of which is the Hong Kong Arts Festival. With a history of over four decades, the annual bonanza featuring opera, theatre, music, dance and more has been an artery of the city’s cultural life. Visitors will have the opportunities to enjoy 166 performances and over 300 exciting array of outreach activities by over 1,700 artists from around the world during the 31-day-long programme this year (Feb 21 - March 23, 2019).