Around the harbour: National Day Fireworks

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National Day is a strange holiday for Hong Kong. It’s only been observed here for 17 years, so there’s no real sense of history or nostalgia. It’s not deeply traditional like Chinese New Year, or unabashedly fun like Christmas. And feelings about Beijing are ambivalent at best.
But everyone loves two days off work and a good fireworks display, whatever their politics may be. Here’s our guide to October 1.


Where to go: Fireworks
National Day has been observed here since the 1997 handover. And there were fireworks until 2013, when they were cancelled out of respect for victims of a fatal ferry crash.
The fireworks – which are hugely popular in Hong Kong — are back this year. According to the Tourism Board, the best public spaces to view them are
· Along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, from the Star Ferry to New World Centre.
· On the Hung Hom bypass, which will be closed to cars starting from 6 p.m.
· In Wanchai, around the Convention Centre and Bauhinia Square.

If you have a harbourview spot in one of the Towers of Power — IFC, Exchange Square, Bank of America, Bank of China, Cheung Kong or HSBC – that’s the place to be. Every National Day, hundreds of professionals sit in darkened offices to gaze out at the fireworks.

On Hong Kong Island, the hot hotels are the Mandarin Oriental and the Four Seasons. In this crazily overbooked city, they started offering National Day specials in August.
If you want to watch fireworks from the comfort of a Mandarin hotel room, it will cost upwards of $5,000.
Or you can try to book a spot at their 25th-floor restaurants and bars: Pierre, Man Wah and M Bar.
Across the harbour, there’s the Ritz, the world’s tallest hotel, perched on the 102nd to 118thfloors of the ICC.
The fact that the Ritz is calling its National Day special a “staycation package” – and the fact that it costs HK $8,688 — is testament to how much local high-rollers are willing to splash out for a great view.
You can also try to book a table at the Ritz’s Tosca, Tin Lung Heen, The Lounge & Bar or Café 103.
Ozone, the world’s tallest bar, will be serving patriotic National Day Cocktails. VIP access costs $500, compared to $300 for mere plebeians. (If I were already paying for the Ritz, I’d probably spring for the extra $200).

The InterContinental in Tsim Sha Tsui East, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the Avenue of the Starts, was voted as having “The Best View in the World” by the Virtuoso LuxeReport.

All its restaurants face the water and are offering National Day specials. The two run by celebrity chefs – SPOON by Alain Ducasse and NOBU – will be booked out quickly. There is also the Harbourview, Steak House. Yan Toh Heen and Lobby Young. Go here for details.

In Tsim Sha Tsui, there are great views at One Peking Road restaurants like Hutong and Aqua (Tokyo, Roma and Spirit).
Speaking of Aqua, they run the Aqua Luna, the graceful historic junk in Victoria Harbour with the red sails. Feeling an ocean breeze is much better than standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the T.S.T. crowd, craning your neck for an hour.
The Tourism Board has a list of other harbour cruises that will take people out during the fireworks.

Pomp and politics
At a ceremony on 8 a.m. on October 1, police officers will raise the Hong Kong and Chinese flags, and the Chinese national anthem will be played at Bauhinia Square behind the Convention Centre.
Actually, this happens almost every morning at Bauhinia Square. The difference is that, on National Day, there will be VIPs on a red carpet behind a red rope, and probably demonstrators, too. In past years, activists like Long-Hair Leung and Scholarism members have been led away by the police.
Calls in mid-September to the departments usually in charge of such things – the Tourism Board, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Home Affairs Department – turned up the most tepid of responses: “The press release isn’t out yet.” “I guess the flags will be raised at the usual time.” “There’s no parade that I know of.”
A cynic might say that officials were cagey of protesters. But it’s more likely that everyone is just a bit meh when it comes to these patriotic gestures – when wining, dining and fireworks are so much more entertaining.