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Experience A Hong Kong Christmas, No Matter Where You Are in The World

A couple of weeks ago, the highly anticipated Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble (initially set for November 22) was shelved after a surge of cases in the region – much to the disappointment of many. Some hotels and shopping centres, had, in fact, tailored special holiday experiences – ready to welcome their first leisure travellers after over a year of travel restrictions. 

While that obviously hasn’t worked out, that doesn’t mean Christmas has to be canceled. Hong Kong retailers, businesses and artists alike have banded together to bring an immersive and innovative festive season to people all over the world – using the power of technology.

Take a 360-degree virtual tour of Hong Kong’s festive Central Business District 

Hong Kong’s Christmas celebrations are widely considered to be some of the best in the region, with vibrant Christmas markets, stunning displays, fun activities and more. The Hong Kong WinterFest, an annual fixture organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, has been a major tourist draw each year – and although visitors might not be able to attend physically this year, they can still expect a veritable wonderland through their screens. 

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Go on a tour of Christmas Town – a snow-kissed virtual CBD based on Hong Kong’s very own Central Business District – which ‘starts’ off at Statue Square, a historic public space in the heart of Central. From there, visitors are free to choose their own adventure: you can learn how to make festive DIY crafts such as aromatic wreaths, ornaments, pop-up holiday cards or candle holders via video tutorials, download holiday-themed Whatsapp stickers designed by famous Hong Kong illustrator like Din Dong, Dustykid and Messy Deck, or tune in to beautiful Christmas carols. If you prefer to just soak in the sights of the CBD’s iconic skyscrapers (which will be all decked out for the holidays), a towering tree and festive Christmas lodges, let Uncle Siu – a popular English educator known for his charming voice – lead you through the innovative 360-degree experience, and make fun, interactive stops along the way. 

The virtual tour of Christmas Town is part of the 2020 Hong Kong Winterfest, which will run until 3 January 2021. 

The world’s first “AI Butterflies Illuminating Interactive Art”

Enter a playground of light at Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai, where a seven-metre-tall, stained-glass butterfly and over 350 little LED butterflies have taken up residence. Dubbed “Butterflies of Hope,” it is the world’s first AI-powered butterfly art installation,  created to inspire, uplift and remind visitors of the hope, love, beauty and positivity we have in this world.

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If you are in Hong Kong, afternoon is the best time to visit, as the glass installation refracts natural light onto the ground, painting the boulevard in a myriad of colours. Evenings are a magical affair, with a music-and-light symphony that sees the butterflies taking flight as they ‘dance’ to the sound of music using artificial intelligence.

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The Lee Tung Avenue atrium is also home to a stunning, 12-metre-tall Christmas tree, with some powerful special effects. Combining touchless interactive technology and a special shadow projection technique, the tree projects butterflies onto the clothes of visitors – a feat of art and technology. 

Enjoy the festivities at Lee Tung Avenue until 10 January 2021.

Get lost in the Asia debut of Globoscope, a light showcase from France

K11 MUSEA, a new cultural-retail destination and arts hub on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, has turned up the Christmas spirit this year with A Very MUSEA Christmas Village. The village spreads joy and wonderment with a roster of artistic cultural experiences, including the Asia debut of Globoscope.

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Globoscope debuts in Asia at K11 Musea

Created by Collectif Coin, a renowned French art lab, the site-specific immersive light show stretches across the Bohemian Garden, a roof-top open space. A 20-minute private experience can be reserved to enjoy the surreal, sensory light exhibit with family or friends. It’s a sight to behold: Glowing spheres dance and swirl in choreographed light movements, while the dramatic Hong Kong skyline shines in the distance.

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Adding to the festive vibes is K11 MUSEA’s gorgeous Christmas Forest, featuring glistening golden trees in the mall’s atrium. Also not to be missed is a special Santa Muse Parade and a Christmas Market.

Experience A Very MUSEA Christmas Village through 3 January 2021. 

“Christmas Every Day” goes high tech with virtual Santa Meet & Greets

For the past 50 years, Harbour City has marked the holiday seasons with larger-than-life Christmas installations and festive surprises. This year is no different: it’s “Christmas Every Day” celebration once again promises unforgettable holiday memories, complemented by a roster of online experiences. 

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Take a virtual tour of the incredible decorations throughout the mall and “check-in” on social media or share your Christmas wish list with Santa during a virtual Meet & Greet. For the little ones, Harbour City has created an interactive online colouring game, where children can dress up their “Monster Friends” – adorable 3D cartoon characters illustrated by Dutch artist Eva Cremers – and then watch their masterpiece come to life!

The holiday extravaganza continues in person. At the “Christmas Lighting Garden” on the Ocean Terminal Deck, you can wade through a sea of illuminated LED clovers and dandelions and enjoy the “Christmas Lighting & Music Show” every evening with the stunning Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop.

Enjoy Harbour City’s “Christmas Every Day” online and offline experiences until 3 January 2021.

*Photos courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Malaysia Presents Alice In Wonderland-Themed Treats This Festive Season

Holiday season is just around the corner, and after a year filled with challenges, I think we’re all in need of some festive cheer. To spark some holiday joy, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf ® is presenting an array of whimsical Alice in Wonderland inspired treats, which are a feast for the eyes as much as they are delicious to eat.

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

For an unforgettable Christmas party with friends and family, the Winter Wonderland (RM250 for 3kg) makes a wonderful centre piece for any gathering, with its intricate, handcrafted gingerbread detail and delicate frosting on a base of chocolate fudge. Complete the setting with Hatter’s Winter Log (RM 13.95 per slice, RM139.90 for a whole cake), a delightful dessert featuring luscious chocolate mousse and ganache; Cheshire’s Cherry Bundt (RM 8.90 per slice, RM52.00 for a loaf), stuffed with cherries, lemon and butter cream; or Stollen of Hearts (RM 6.90 per slice, RM48.00 for a loaf) with its hearty mix of Swiss dark chocolate, almonds and hazelnuts. Of course, a visit to Wonderland would not be complete without The Red Queen (RM12.95 each), a luscious pastry filled with caramel, coffee and chocolate mousse concealed under a rich red crust of almond chocolate.

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The Red Queen and Minted Ever After cupcakes (left); Hatter’s Winter Log

There’s more for the sweet-toothed dessert lover: choose from an assortment of cakes such as Minted Ever After (RM 7.90 per cupcake, RM 50 per petite cake, RM139.90 for a whole cake), a decadent concoction of dark chocolate and mint topped with cream, fresh redcurrants and rosemary, and Velveteen’s Wish (RM 12.95 per slice, RM129.30 for a whole cake), a red velvet cake topped with crunchy cookie bits and cheese mousse.

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Alice’s Tea Party

For a bit of everything, go for Alice’s Tea Party (RM109 for 20 pieces), a selection of bite-sized treats of Hatter’s Winter Log, Jolly Breadman, Tweedle Tart and Minted Ever After. Top-up as needed with Jolly Breadman (RM7.90 per piece) or Once Upon A Door butter cookies (RM9.90 per piece).

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CF & TL is known for its delectable beverages, and there’s no shortage of exclusive specials to try this season. Indulge in a Chocolate Cookie – a combination of premium espresso and decadent chocolate cookie notes – available in several varieties: the Chocolate Cookie Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), Pure Chocolate Cookie Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18) or hot / iced Chocolate Cookie Latte (small RM16, regular RM17.50).

Cheshire's Cherry Bundt - whole (bg 1)
Cherry Bundt (whole)

Making a comeback for a limited time only is the ever-popular Double Chocolate Peppermint beverages, available as Double Chocolate Peppermint Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), Pure Double Chocolate Peppermint Ice Blended® drink (small RM16.50, regular RM18), hot / iced Double Chocolate Peppermint Latte (small RM16, regular RM17.50) and Peppermint Nitro Latte (RM15.95 at selected stores). Best of all, kids get to enjoy their own coffee-free version, as a hot / iced Double Chocolate Cocoa (small RM16, regular RM17.50) and tea lovers can enjoy the hot Peppermint Tea (RM9.60/cup or RM12.50/pot). While you’re sipping on your holiday beverage, upgrade to a complete meal by trying out the brand’s new Black Pepper Chicken Sandwich (RM19.80).

Stollen of Hearts (loaf & slice)
Stollen of Hearts

Even if you’re not dining in, there are plenty of new retail items to celebrate the season on-the-go, or in the comfort of one’s own home. Take your pick from dark-roasted Holiday Blend (RM55 /12oz), Peppermint Tea in a green tea blend (RM45/tin), Limited Edition 8oz Powders in French Deluxe Vanilla Powder, Peppermint Chocolate Powder and Hazelnut  Powder (RM40/tin). Also available are new designs for the Hydro Flask Series (RM205 each) and Frost Tumbler Series (RM128-138).  They also make for great gifts.

Jolly Breadman & Once Upon A Door [cookies]

In line with the season of giving, CB&TL’s popular Gift Tags return with new designs, with proceeds going towards the Caring Cup initiative. This year, the beneficiary is the Assunta Integrated Social Services programme by ASSUNTA Hospital, to help raise funds for equipment upgrades and essential supplies for their new mobile clinic. With the added support, they will continue to provide much-needed medical and healthcare assistance to marginalised groups.

For more info, visit http://www.coffeebean.com.my.

*Photos courtesy of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Malaysia.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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Experience Star Wars This Christmas @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

As one of the largest and most popular shopping malls in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, one can always expect interesting Christmas decorations at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur come the year-end holiday season. Past celebrations have seen themes such as Christmas Ever After and a Magical Christmas with Disney (featuring hundreds of Mickey figurines). This year, the mall rides on a much-anticipated film releasing in December – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – transforming the Centre Court into a Star Wars-themed exhibition.

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The ‘Starry Christmas’ theme begins at the entrance with a giant pink Yves Saint Laurent tree and a star-shaped gateway. Once you step in, visitors are greeted with booths selling YSL Beaute’s Holiday Look 2019 High on Stars Collection, where you can shop for exclusive gifts for yourself and loved ones.

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The Centre Court is bathed in neon blues and reds to give it that intergalactic vibe. On the sides are giant light sabres rising up to the ceiling, while Sithtroopers guard the Spanish steps.

 

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The centrepiece is the iconic Millennium Falcon, propped atop a giant screen playing clips from the upcoming film.

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Royal Selangor, the homegrown pewter brand, has partnered with The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia to come up with a Star Wars collection, featuring some of the franchise’s most beloved characters in pewter. You can drop by to view the exhibition, and if anything catches you fancy, buy some to take home.

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And who wouldn’t know this scene?

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Try your hand at the new Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order game at the PS4 booths.

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Or snap a pic in the Cockpit Access and Hyperdrive Tunnel.

As part of the experience, there will be shows and other programmes throughout the month of December, from appearances by C-3PO, R2-D2 & First Order Stormtroopers, Star Wars light shows, as well as the more conventional Santa meet and Greets, carolling, etc.

 

Christmas Ever After @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Christmas is always a fun affair in Malaysia (albeit commercialised). While not as lavish as celebrations in Singapore, or as festive as the Philippines, most malls try to outdo each other with grand decorations and activities, such as Santa meet and greets, carolling sessions, and more.

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At the forefront is Pavilion KL, within the city’s Golden Triangle. As one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular malls, Christmas deco is serious business – and they’ve come up with some impressive stuff over the years. In 2013, visitors got to experience ‘snowfall’ every night at the mall’s entrance, while last year they had a giant Swarovski tree. So what’s in store for 2016?

Well, for one, there’s a giant 70ft-tall Christmas tree at the entrance, right in front of the Crystal fountain. Great place for pictures! At night, the tree will be illuminated with LED lights and glittering ornaments. 🙂

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The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Christmas Ever After’, inspired by the magic of fairytales. For their launching ceremony, performers dressed up as princesses, elves and other enchanting characters to entertain the crowd.

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The centrepiece is the Fairytale Castle, its semi-transparent walls lit up with different coloured lights – surrounded by ornamented Christmas trees, gold pillars and red flowers.

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Next to the Castle is the Swarovski Crystallised Merry-Go-Round. The carousel is decorated with sparkling crystals on its floor as well as on the horses. Visitors can go on it for rides, with part of the proceeds going to charity. All in the spirit of giving and sharing, right? 🙂

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There will also be pop-up stores in the centre court selling all manner of Christmas-y items, from gifts to souvenirs and ornaments. Better get that Christmas shopping in ! 🙂

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The best place to see everything is from the Spanish steps, which has aptly been dubbed the Theatre of Dreams – thanks to the two large red curtains ala an actual theatre on each side. Throughout the month, visitors will be entertained by various shows such as Santa’s Magical Band, Santa’s Bagpipe Performance, Magnificent Dance Show, Santa Meet & Greet and Spectacular Holiday Performance.

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The little ones will enjoy the Fantasy Train, running from now until January 1 for RM10 per ride at the mall’s main entrance.

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Lighting up the Spritzer Christmas tree !

So if you’re ever in KL over Christmas, go check out the lovely deco at Pavi KL, as well as the surrounding cloisters in Bukit Bintang. A very Merry Christmas to you, dear reader. 🙂

More info and showtimes @ pavilion-kl.com.

*pictures not watermarked courtesy of MilkPR & Pavilion KL