March is a great time to explore Hong Kong’s cultural life, particularly the art scene. For the entire month, there will be arts and cultural events around town headlined by internationally renowned Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central. But apart from these two, there will be a slew of events that visitors can enjoy at the city.
Art Basel Hong Kong (March 29 to 31) and Art Central (March 27 to 31), both mainstays of HK Arts Month, provide lavish visual feast every year. Art Basel Hong Kong returns for its seventh year to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with 242 galleries from 36 countries, 21 of which are new to the show.
Art Central, on the other hand, will have over 100 galleries showcasing art from around the globe. The fifth edition will also feature carefully curated performances, large-scale installations, new media art, and talks—all with a view of Victoria Harbour and the city’s signature skyline at the Central Harbourfront.
Various 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 the first venue in the West Kowloon Cultural District to open its doors. With a futuristic form and a steel structure, the eight-floor edifice is 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 nurtures 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 HK’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 March 16, 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 revitalization project which took a decade and HK$3.8 billion to complete. Three monuments are now part of this cultural destination, which houses a world-standard contemporary art museum.
Tourists during Hong Kong Arts Month can enjoy free site-specific performances, urban dance battles, community and contemporary dance, workshops and screenings in the HKArtsFestival@TaiKwun programme over two weekends (2-10 March 2019).
From street to stage
The art experience in Hong Kong is not limited to standalone events and places. Art has penetrated the corners of different neighborhoods, turning them into “street art museums.” Central, Sheung Wan and the latest “ARTLANE” in the hipster Sai Ying Pun area, have murals by local and overseas artists can be found on walls of old buildings and staircases. There is shutter art around Hong Kong painted by young local artists under an initiative aptly called “HK Urban Canvas,” which depicts the stories behind local shops.
If you’re looking for something more sensory, check out the four-decaded-old Hong Kong Arts Festival. It features opera, theatre, music, and dance. There will be 166 performances and over 300 outreach activities by over 1,700 artists from around the world during the 31-day-long programme this year. It began on February 21 and will run until March 23.
For more information on Hong Kong Arts Month, please visit discoverhongkong.com