Food, fireworks and festivities with family and friends: these are just some of the reasons we wish the new year celebrations could happen more than once a year.
The positive vibes of giddy children and music in the streets may not be around all year, but in Asia, the fun doesn’t have to end on the first of January. OZO Hotels has three exciting new year celebrations to add to your travel itinerary, in Hong Kong, Thailand and Sri Lanka, from February through April.
Lunar New Year in Hong Kong
Beyond the famous night parades with their powerful drums, lively performances and colourful floats, Hong Kong offers days of cultural activities for locals and visitors alike. From 15-18 February, Sha Tin Park will be hosting the interactive 2019 Hong Kong Happy Chinese New Year Temple Fair, showcasing exhibitions, performances and a shopping bazaar of Guizhou lifestyle. While the park is a trek from Hong Kong Island, the journey there takes you past decorated streets and jovial neighbourhoods, making it a very unique time of year to travel through Hong Kong.
Further inland is a simple yet very distinctive New Year activity: the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Tai Po. Visitors can throw placards onto the Wishing Tree or light up wishing lanterns in hopes of good fortune for the year ahead. Infact, it is believed that the higher a placard lands on the tree, the more likely those wishes will come true. And for this Lunar New Year, the parade floats from the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade will also be on display by the tree from 6-19 February.
Finally, sparks will fly at 20:00 on 6 February 2019, ringing in the Lunar New Year with a glittering fireworks display over the waterfront. Some of the best views for the nighttime spectacular can be seen from Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai, which is easily accessible from OZO Wesley Hong Kong via a 20-minute stroll. For more information on attractions and schedules of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Hong Kong, visit www.discoverhongkong.com
Make the most of the Lunar New Year celebrations with up to 15% off bookings and complimentary late check-out at 16:00 until 31 December 2019 at OZO Wesley Hong Kong. Rates start at 725 HKD per night. For more information, visit www.ozohotels.com/wesley-
Songkran in Thailand
More than a party zone, the Songkran festival celebrates the Thai New Year with cleansing rituals and quality time with the family. Officially held from 13-15 April, many cities in Thailand may start as early as 12 April by setting up the streets and temples for the holidays.
Those looking for a more authentic Songkran experience on Koh Samui should visit the nearby temples, Wat Plai Laem or Wat Phra Yai. Traditionally, families gather together to visit local temples to pray for blessings, and to pour water onto Buddha statues to cleanse and wash away bad luck. Another fun custom, especially for creative children, is the building of decorated sand pagodas. Just be sure to wear appropriate clothes for visiting temples, with an outfit covering the shoulders and knees.
For fans of fun dance music and water fights, the Chaweng neighbourhood is the perfect place to be! With its friendly faces and busy streets, many of the best water fights and much of Koh Samui’s party scene can be found here. Stacked Burger at OZO Chaweng Samui is conveniently located on the main street, making it easy for revellers to rest and recover with a free water stand in front and affordable snacks to grab and go — though you can’t go wrong with taking a juicy burger break and washing it down with an ice-cold drink either!
The biggest splash of the year wouldn’t be right without you — book your holiday with OZO Chaweng Samui, with complimentary airport transfer for bookings of three or more nights and rates starting at 2,880 THB per night. Valid for stays until 30 June 2019. For more information, visit www.ozohotels.com/chaweng-
Sinhala and Hindu New Year in Sri Lanka
On 13 and 14 April each year, Sri Lanka celebrates the Sinhala and Hindu New Year (also known as Aluth Avurudu). Festivities are very musical, colourful and flavourful: from the rhythmic drums to the sweet delicacies being served as homes are cleaned and repainted, and locals expectantly welcome a fresh new year. A more modest destination with one of the world’s most famous Buddhist temples, the Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the city of Kandy invites visitors from all over to experience Sri Lanka’s New Year celebrations.
At dawn on New Year’s Day, also known as Aluth Avurudu Udawa, firecrackers, drums and bells signal new beginnings. Annual rituals are held throughout the day, some of which visitors can join in. There is a lot of love and food to share amongst neighbours — plates of homemade sweetmeats are exchanged with the intention of no plate returning empty. At the local temples, the village chief anoints visitors with an herbal oil essence, purifying the body and spirit.
After all the yearly traditions are over, the streets fill up with more music, dancing and celebrations, including games for everyone to enjoy. During the New Year, Kandy is the perfect place for tug-o-war champions and those looking to join a public pillow fight. (Just don’t take the pillows from OZO Kandy home!)
Discover the charms of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage City amongst green hills, with the “Explore Kandy” package. In addition to a full-day city tour of Kandy’s shops and popular attractions, guests will also enjoy a complimentary room category upgrade and early check-in / late check-out. The package starts at 244 USD for two nights, and is valid for stays until 31 October 2019. For more information, visit www.ozohotels.com/kandy-