Date
26 September 2017
This year's Lunar New Year parade will feature Star Wars characters and Hello Kitty (inset). Last year's event had a Disneyland flavor. Photos: Xinhua, internet
This year's Lunar New Year parade will feature Star Wars characters and Hello Kitty (inset). Last year's event had a Disneyland flavor. Photos: Xinhua, internet

Lunar New Year parade takes on galactic proportions

Star Wars, last year’s biggest blockbuster movie, inspired copycats to dress the part and parade in the streets from New York to Paris and Shanghai.

Now, Darth Vader, the Storm Troopers and their galactic friends and foes are taking to Hong Kong’s streets in a Lunar New Year event worthy of the best production this side of the known universe.

They will be joined by Japanese sensation Hello Kitty in the 21st running of the annual Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade.

The HK$33 million (US$4.24 million) production will take place on Feb. 8 in Tsim Sha Tsui, with organizers expecting 150,000 spectators including thousands of foreign tourists.

The parade will feature 13 floats and 22 performing troupes and costumed marchers.

Tickets to the parade range from HK$300 to HK$480 each and 2,300 seats will be available, with 900 tickets going on sale next Saturday.

The rest of the quota is reserved for tourists and sponsors.

Despite the added attractions, tour group sales from mainland China are coming in below expectations.

Joseph Tung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said an average of 250 Chinese tour groups will come to Hong Kong each day of the three-day holiday, down 30 percent from last year.

Tung said visitors on individual visas might offset the fall in group tours.

Sam Lau of the Tourist Guest Houses Federation said rooms are nearly sold out for the second and third days of the Lunar New Year but occupancy rates are running at 50-60 percent for the preceding two days.

Lau said he is confident bookings will pick up. Rooms cost an average of HK$600 a night for four people.

The second day of the new year will feature a 23-minute fireworks extravaganza in Victoria Harbor to welcome the Year of the Monkey.

About 300,000 spectators are expected to turn out for the main highlight of the celebrations.

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EL/AC/RA

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