Tens of thousands of Hongkongers and tourists lined both sides of Victoria Harbour on Sunday hours before the city’s first National Day fireworks show in five years, with revellers hoping to bag the best seats for the coming spectacle.
Residents and travellers alike began arriving at the promenade near the Wan Chai pier at 3pm, looking for prime spots to take in the 23-minute extravaganza that will light up Hong Kong’s night sky at 9pm.
Organisers plan to light the fuses from three barges and six pontoons moored 350 metres (383 yards) from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. The district, alongside Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay are considered the ideal places to watch the show.
Over at Tsim Sha Tsui East MTR station, exits J, K, L1, L4, L5, L6, N3 and P3 were temporarily closed off as early as 6pm under police’s crowd control strategy. Exits H and R at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station were also sealed at around 6.45pm.
Crowds also packed out the Avenue of Stars along Tsim Sha Tsui’s waterfront, with the holiday hustle and bustle resulting in serious traffic jams along the nearby Salisbury Road and the southern end of Nathan Road at sunset.
The area, which extends from K11 Musea to the Star Ferry Pier, was lined by spectators and photographers in the evening as Cantopop music and Chinese opera music played to keep spirits high before the display.
Hang Wong, 51, said he and his family had reached a spot along the promenade and close to the Cultural Centre at around 6pm.
“My son has never watched a fireworks display before,” he said, referring to his three-year-old.
“It’s much more crowded than previous years, we wanted to cross Central just now but there were too many people queuing for the ferry.”
Museum Drive and Cultural Drive, part of the West Kowloon Cultural District art hub, closed at 7pm as all bus and minibus routes in the area were suspended. The site also sealed off entry and exit points for cars.
Back in Wan Chai, police set up barriers to control the flow of foot traffic starting to form at sunset and officers were stationed in the area to ensure public safety.
Crowds disembarked from the Star Ferry at the Wan Chai Pier after taking advantage of the company’s offer of free boat rides as part of the festivities.
In the midst of it all, domestic helpers Rea Esto and Kit Malicdem said they had come packed with snacks to the nearby waterside park at 3pm and were excited to see the fireworks display.
“The last time I saw it was in 2018,” said Esto, who has been working in Hong Kong for six years.
“I have high hopes for [Sunday’s] show since it’s been five years. The crowd also started gathering earlier than before. We came here after our friends told us that Tamar Park was already packed.”
Jennifer Xue, a master’s student at the University of Hong Kong, and her friends had managed to secure a seat right next to the water after arriving at 5pm.
“I’ve only been in Hong Kong for a month, and I’m very excited to see the fireworks over Victoria Harbour,” the 22-year-old said.
“We came from Kennedy Town where there was a live band performing, so I wish they had that here too.”
Thousands of spectators had already rocked up at the piers along Central when a Post reporter arrived at the scene around 7.15pm.
A viewing section at the promenade was already full and police had set up barricades and were redirecting people to other vantage points near the Hong Kong Observation Wheel.
Piers 9 and 10 were temporarily closed off to the public to make way for hundreds of people boarding private vessels in the harbour to catch a glimpse of the fireworks.
Among those offering a closer view was yacht rental operator Oceangogo, with employees at the scene saying that more than 400 people had booked spots in advance and all nine of their boats were full.
Hongkonger Marybeth Ong, 34, who was getting ready to board a boat with her husband and her six-year-old son, told the Post the family bought their tickets two weeks in advance to avoid missing out.
“It will be [my son’s] first time seeing [the fireworks],” she said. “He really likes fireworks, so we thought it would be better if we got a good view for him.”
Police opened piers 9 and 10 to the public just before 8pm, with hundreds rushing to secure a spot to watch the display.
The Marine Department warned those looking after children to make sure youngsters kept their life jackets on at all times and reminded all passengers to familiarise themselves with safety procedures before their vessels departed.
Each boat’s coxswain must also keep a list of passengers and crew, it added.
On the rooftop of Harbour City shopping centre’s car park in Tsim Sha Tsui, hundreds had gathered since 7pm after paying a premium to escape the crowds and take in the evening breeze as they waited for the show.
A civil servant, who only gave her name as Chan, said she had redeemed four tickets for her family after spending more than HK$4,000 (US$511) on electronics at the mall.
“We haven’t watched the show in person before and we can escape the crowds and watch in comfort, so I think it’s worth it,” said the 50-year-old, adding her elderly parents had brought stools for comfort.
The fireworks display, which will cost about HK$18 million, will depict eight scenes that seek to promote nationwide hope and happiness. Organisers plan to use about 32,000 individual pyrotechnics.
Insurance firm FWD Group and telecommunications company HKT are co-sponsoring this year’s show, which has not been held since 2019 because of social unrest that year and health concerns during the three years under the Covid-19 pandemic.