Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, an annual public holiday on July 1, marks the date in 1997 when Great Britain’s 156-year-long colonial rule ended over Hong Kong and the territory was officially handed back to China. This year is the SAR’s 25th anniversary and is an especially significant milestone because it is the halfway point in the 50 years during which the city was promised independence under the “one country, two systems” principle.
Highlights of this year’s Establishment Day
As this is a landmark Establishment Day, President Xi Jinping will be in Hong Kong to attend a meeting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the HKSAR and swear in the city’s sixth Chief Executive, John Lee Ka-chiu, and his administration at the Grand Hall on Level 3 of the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. This will be President Xi’s first trip outside Mainland China since early 2020, when the country closed its borders after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Xi will arrive on June 30 and July 1, but will not stay overnight in the city and will instead travel between Shenzhen and the SAR. He is expected to attend a dinner banquet hosted by incumbent Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at her Government House residence on June 30. Some reports also state that he will visit the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park in Sha Tin.
The government announced that there will be a flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre at 8am on July 1. The ceremony will feature a performance by the Police Band and singing of the national anthem by singers Chen Yong and Phoebe Tam. This will be followed by a fly-past and a sea parade by the disciplined services. However, this event will not be open to the public.
Special free events
Several celebratory events are planned for the 25th Establishment Day, the chief of which are the Grand Flypast above Victoria Harbour on July 1 and the opening of the Hong Kong Palace Museum on July 2 in the West Kowloon Cultural District. The public can also access permanent exhibitions at the Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum for free on July 1, with the exception of the Space Theatre’s shows.
In addition, members of the public can board a free Victoria Harbour cruise on July 2 organised by Hong Kong Ferry, as well as witness flag-raising ceremonies across the city. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s (LCSD) recreation and sports facilities will also be open for free use by the public on July 1.
The LCSD is also presenting a variety show at the Hong Kong Coliseum at Hung Hom at 8pm on July 1. The show will feature more than 700 performers, including renowned singers and artistes, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Dance Company. Other performing arts talents, youth from different arts and sports organisations, and choir members will also be part of the event, which will be available to watch on local TV and via a live stream.
Other free exhibitions will be held at the following spaces:
- Hong Kong Museum of Art
- Hong Kong Heritage Museum
- Hong Kong Museum of History
- Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum
- Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
- Hong Kong Railway Museum
- Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery
- Law Uk Folk Museum
- Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
- Hong Kong Film Archive
- Sam Tung Uk Museum
- Oil Street Art Space (Oi!)
- Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre
Header image credits: Leung Cho Pan via Canva