It’s finally the best time of year for feasts, fêtes and festivities! Whether you love browsing Christmas markets or prefer to cosy up indoors with loved ones for a movie — there are plenty of them this month. Here are 10 of our best picks to get the Christmas spirit going as we kick off December.
French cinema gets its very own spotlight in Hong Kong each year with the French Cinepanorama festival, aptly so seeing as it is considered the the birthplace of cinema. The French film programme will extend through 11 December, while continuing 6–25 January with a programme dedicated to Cinema & Music. This year, the film festival particularly invites a roster of talents to Hong Kong, including director Pierre Salvadori, whose feature The Trouble With You opens the festival. Starring Audrey Tautou, Adèle Haenel and Pio Marmai, the story delves into a deceased police chief’s widow who finds out that her husband was not the hero they thought him to be. Other artists set to visit include Alexandre Desplat, Oscar-winning composer, slated to arrive in town in January, while Serge Franklin, the composer of “Day of Atonement” will also be hosting a masterclass.
While the traditional Christmas bazaar brings together all of the classic symbols of Yuletide festivities, the Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s Oriental Spa bazaar is the perfect shopping opportunity for spa and beauty junkies to stock up for the holidays. Whether you’re searching for perfect gifts or ways to unwind at the tail end of the year, products on show range from jewellery and accessories to fitness wear to gift sets from brands including Aromatherapy Associates, Natura Bissé, Niin, Or Tea and more. Poolside booths will also be set up on Saturday, 1 December, from noon to 6pm. One more thing to note for spa lovers looking for a unique experience: All treatments booked at the Oriental Spa on 12 December will take place in silence, in honour of Silent Night.
Hong Kong’s largest design festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and is themed after “trial & error,” all about the artist’s process of making mistakes before achieving the end result. Six large-scale interactive installations dot the premises at PMQ, from whimsical murals projected onto PMQ’s windows, to a new-fangled rendition of Othello involving interactive sound effects and music. Eleven immersive, multi-sensory exhibitions also flesh out the festival and offer instances for viewers to connect with the artwork, featuring sound-reactive projections involving white rabbits, a scent exhibition bottling the good and strange smells of Hong Kong’s hyper-dense living space.
Cosy up with your loved ones on Monday nights throughout December and Christmas Day with the best Christmas movies (of popular opinion, at least). The first three weeks, Foxglove will play host to Home Alone, Home Alone 2, and Miracle on 34th Street, while the 25th gets two seatings for dinner: 6:30pm for Elf, and the ultimate holiday favourite, Love Actually. Paired with a Chinese à la carte menu by newly appointed chef Tony Hung, it’s quite the ideal way to while away the final Monday blues of the year.
Equestrian sports fans warming up for the Longines Masters next February will want to head to the the races for this spectacular event — with four race cups worth an extraordinary HK$93 million. The prestigious races kick off with an all-star cast at Happy Valley on 5 December for the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship, followed by the Hong Kong International Races on 9 December at Shatin Racecourse.
There’s nothing like Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to get you into the festive spirit. Hong Kong theatre troupe Sweet and Sour Productions puts together this adapted performance of Dickens’ famed Christmas story.
As West Kowloon Art Park gets better and better looking, the Freespace venue continues to come together. This weekend, it will host the first-ever outdoor movie screening on the Freespace building facade, featuring Faces Places, a documentary following street artist JR and French New Wave director Agnes Varda, and The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, about the famous cellist’s music collective created in 2010. There’s myriad ways to meaningfully unwind from the hustle and bustle of the week, whether it’s soaking up the live music (pictured: Israeli jazz artist Gili Yalo), taking part in a partner yoga workshop, making a DIY Christmas wreath, a birdwatching class, and of course, a chance for a relaxed picnic on the green. Dogs are welcome!
Founded by veteran film financier Mike Goodridge, the IFFAM returns for its third year with an eclectic array of new and old films, ranging from epics bringing classic literature and history to the screen to documentaries to acclaimed arthouse films to spellbinding dramas. Don’t sleep on works by esteemed directors Zhang Yimou. With stories taking place from the old school Macau peninsula to the Siberian tundra, there’s something for everyone — there’s even a highlighted masterclass with Nicolas Cage (9 December, 3pm) where the Hollywood actor will discuss his career and best-kept secrets.
Speaking of the film scene, this M+ film homage to Hong Kong director Ann Hui takes place at The Metroplex and Broadway Cinematheque across two weekends — 8–9 December and 14–16 December — so fans of local cinema will want to take note. From 1979’s The Secret to 2008’s The Way We Are, the films screened follow the evolution of the beloved film director, who took home the Best Director title at the Hong Kong Film Awards six times. There’s also a seminar with the director on 9 December — with registration on a first-come, first-served basis.
Missed the Scandinavian Christmas Market back in November? Taking place across two weekends this December (8–9 and 15–16), the Stanley Plaza Finnish Christmas Market is one of the city’s best festive pastimes — browsing wares for the holidays. Featuring hundreds of festive gourmet treats, enchanting decorations and stocking stuffers, and particularly, a life-size traditional Finnish Yule Goat statue and a 7-meter-tall ‘Home of the Elves’ — sure to make for a great family day out.