March is the best time to explore Hong Kong in an artsy way. From March this year, Hong Kong's flourishing arts scene will come to fruition with an inspirational spectrum of arts events planned in various neighbourhoods across the city.
With events ranging from world-class art happenings downtown and performing arts programmes from around the world to unique and exciting arts offerings in local communities, there will be something to suit all tastes during the "Hong Kong Arts Month".
In particular, do not miss the following international events and community programmes:
Acclaimed International art events in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) will be the premier event to kick-off the "Hong Kong Arts Month". Starting 23 February, the 46th HKAF will feature more than 1,700 international and local artists in 130 performances until 24 March. This year's highlights include Whipped Cream by the American Ballet Theatre, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by the National Theatre of Great Britain and Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, staged by the legendary Welsh National Opera.
Another highlight is Art Central Hong Kong, which will be staged in the Central Harbourfront Event Space from 27 March to 1 April, with a VIP preview and inauguration event to be held on 26 March. The fourth edition will return with 30 galleries participating for the first time and more than 100 international galleries, over 75% of which are from Asia-Pacific, making it the largest edition in scale by far. Art Central Hong Kong's dynamic week-long programme also includes interactive installations, performances and a panel discussion.
Art Basel in Hong Kong, now in its sixth edition, will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 29 to 31 March. The world-famous international art fair will feature 248 leading galleries from 32 countries and territories, with 28 of them from Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas participating for the first time. Art Basel will offer an expansive view of its diverse arts vision, historical materials and cutting-edge works by established and emerging artists.
Savour distinctive arts in local neighbourhoods
Authentic and inspiring arts happenings in local Hong Kong neighbourhoods are also gems to be discovered. Sham Shui Po, a local neighbourhood which offers one of the most heritage-rich experiences in Hong Kong, is one of the highlights in this edition of "Hong Kong Arts Month".
The HK Urban Canvas community art project, organised by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, has brought talented local artists and students together to create 10 shutter artworks that tell the stories of the local shops in the Sham Shui Po neighbourhood.
Visitors are encouraged to join weekend tours from late-March to mid-April to learn more about the art project and the neighbourhood. Free guided cultural tours conducted in Cantonese or Mandarin are available on a first-come, first-served basis. (For details please visit the Facebook page of @HKUrbanCanvas.)
If you are visiting Art Basel, consider gallery hopping in Wong Chuk Hang as well. The South Island district, which includes Wong Chuk Hang, has been an upcoming art hub in Hong Kong thanks to the opening of the MTR South Island Line in late 2016. On South Island Art Day on 29 March, around 16 art galleries and studios in the South Island Cultural District will open their doors to host exhibitions and performances. Free guided tours are available for reservation at [email protected], or on-site on the event day. (For details please visit www.sicd.com.hk.)
Hidden within industrial buildings in the New Territories is Fo Tan, another up-and-coming art neighbourhood that is lesser known to visitors. Since 2000, it has been transformed from a predominantly industrial district into a vibrant artistic community, given the more affordable rents in the area. From pottery, sculpture and Chinese calligraphy to contemporary art pieces, visitors can always find something of interest in the neighbourhood. On 31 March, Fotan Open Studios will offer a great opportunity for those who are interested to meet and exchange ideas with, and be inspired by, local artists. (For details please visit www.fotanstudios.org.)
A comprehensive range of events not to be missed
There will be a lot more to explore in key art and cultural spaces, such as the PMQ, the Fringe Club and various hotels and malls like K11 and Pacific Place, during Hong Kong Arts Month.
Special mention must be made of Hong Kong's first international sculpture park - the Harbour Arts Sculpture Park - which will showcase museum-quality sculptures at the Victoria Harbourfront from 22 February to 11 April. This admission-free event will be staged at the Central and Western District Promenade and will feature sculptures by over 18 emerging and renowned local and international contemporary artists.
The event offers a unique opportunity for visitors to get up close with the art pieces at the edge of the iconic Victoria Harbour. Another highlight is Notating Beauty That Moves - Music at an Exhibition at the ArtisTree of Taikoo Place from 3 to 29 March, in which musical scores in the classical and contemporary hands of composers from the past and present, artworks of various forms as well as concerts by top-notch musicians will be presented.
Art Basel in Hong Kong will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 29 to 31 March. (Photo courtesy of Art Basel)
The HK Urban Canvas community art project has brought talented local artists and students together to create 10 shutter artworks in Sham Shui Po. (Photo courtesy of HK Urban Canvas)