Cold snap drives up cost of flowers at Hong Kong Lunar New Year fair

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Thousands of holidaymakers and visitors who flocked to the annual Lunar New Year Fair saw the price of flowers peak this year after prolonged periods of cold weather.

But the atmosphere in the market in Victoria Park heated up during the sunny and warm weekend, which featured food and drink, traditional goods, year-of-the-dog-themed gifts and creative products.

Organised by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, a total of 15 Lunar New Year fairs will be held from February 10 to 16.

One flower stall owner, surname Wong, warned customers that prices will increase by 20 to 30 per cent this year due to the recent cold weather, compared to last year.

“We had to import some chrysanthemums from China because they were not able to blossom in the New Territories, which resulted in only a limited amount of that type of flower this year,” he said.

“While I already forecast that sales will take a hit, I just hope to at least break even.”

The florist said he is prepared for an overall drop in earnings compared to last year.

But the bright weather at the weekend seemed to have loosened up some visitors’ purse strings as many gathered at Jino Yeung Yut-yan’s booth, Love In the Neighbourhood, which steered clear of dog-themed souvenirs.

With her self-designed spring banners, she was attempting to bring fashion to a traditional custom where red banners are hung for good luck.

“Rather than having Chinese poetry and messages written on the couplets, we have

quotes such as ‘getting paid to go on holiday’ as well as ‘find me a sugar daddy’,” she said.

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Visitors started arriving as early as eight o’clock and by the afternoon crowds were pouring in. Among them was a group of foreign exchange students from the University of Hong Kong.

“I think it’s very nice, you can try food and there are flowers. It’s interesting to know that stall owners come up with their own varieties of products depending of on what year it is. This time, you see dogs in every form and kind,” a 22-year-old Italian from the group said.

A family of three from New Zealand also enjoyed exploring the fair with their five-year-old son.

“This is a major experience for him to get to know what Chinese New Year is all about. We had fun talking to other people, finding out a little more about the local culture,” the mother said.

Meanwhile, young politicians from Demosisto, founded by Joshua Wong Chi-fung, put their entrepreneurial skills to the test at the fair.

The group printed T-shirts with a design focusing on the Legislative Council’s latest approval to tighten 24 rules, in an effort to curb filibustering.

The changes, proposed by the pro-establishment bloc in December last year were staunchly opposed by the democracy camp, which said it would stop them from being an effective check on the city’s government, and allow the administration to bulldoze through controversial legislation.

The chairman of the political group, Nathan Law Kwun-chung revealed there was a bit of a setback during the production stage.

“When designing the luggage tags, we originally wanted to print a joke – “be careful, we are off to collude with foreign powers” but the printing factory rejected our request. This shows a growing self censorship, even in production houses,” Law said.

He said their stall was given the green light by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and was certain things would run smoothly.

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