As you wander across the lawn in Victoria Park, a glowing genie suddenly appears above you: “What is your wish, O Master Aladdin?” As far as your eye can see, fantastical art creations bob up and down in the air. In the nearby streets of Causeway Bay, you can hear the sound of rippling laughter, and you catch a glimpse of a colourful parade of giant elephants, Russian dolls and turtles gliding gracefully along in front of thousands of delighted spectators.
From 14 to 15 November, Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras 2015, one of Hong Kong’s most iconic and fun-filled community arts carnivals, will celebrate its 15th anniversary. It will once again showcase the best in live performances and visual artwork presented by 3,500 of the city’s students and professional artists. Open to all for free, the festival is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors and tourists, with the highlight of the carnival being the giant puppet parades that can only be seen in Hong Kong once a year.
Giant Puppets to Roam Causeway Bay
Visitors shouldn’t miss one of the city’s biggest and most colourful giant puppet parades during the fiesta. Art Fun in Causeway Bay: Night Parade will feature eight gigantic illuminated puppets, together with rod puppets and giant glowing costumes created by local professional artists and members of the Lantern Company, an internationally-renowned UK-based art group.
The busy streets of Causeway Bay will become a vibrant stage when over 600 young people proudly present the highlight of the event, Art Fun in Causeway Bay: Grand Finale Parade. The parade will involve a total of 11 gigantic puppets, 60 rod puppets and over 120 dancers in creative carnival costumes making their way through the heart of the busy shopping district, lifting the carnival atmosphere up a notch.
An Arts & Classical Music Playground
Organised by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation and sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, this year’s Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras takes as its theme “Classical Music & Art”.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the festival, some of the city’s best artistic talents will be collaborating on unique original performances and visual art works that will take inspiration from classical music masterpieces, including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (1001 Arabian Nights),Saint-Saëns’ ever-popular The Carnival of the Animals, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.
Victoria Park will be transformed into a spectacular outdoor art gallery, with 18 free-of-charge interactive stalls where visitors of all ages will be able to create their own masks, headdresses and rod puppets, and have their faces painted. Seventy youth groups will be involved in non-stop dance, martial arts and music performances, and more. Kazoo and drum jams throughout the weekend will give event-goers a chance to unlock their musical talent, and play simple tunes and rhythms on the spot.
Using the language of classical music, a language that transcends times, cultures, ages and abilities, Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras 2015 aims to share the joy of art with people from across Hong Kong and beyond.
An Educational Programme Turned Must-Attend Event
Launched in 2001, Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras is an annual youth art education programme that lasts for six months and culminates in the two-day fiesta in November. Each year, over 3,500 young people from 200 schools and youth organisations participate in the event; their involvement ranges from developing original performance pieces to working with professional artists in schools to create parade and exhibition art. By providing these youngsters with exciting opportunities to develop skills in art, creativity, performance, team-building, and leadership, the programme is contributing to the long-term development of Hong Kong’s youth, as well as benefitting the community at large.
Since the first Mardi Gras event was held at Stanley Plaza in 2001, the programme has developed into one of the most exciting youth arts festivals in Hong Kong. The event moved from Stanley to Victoria Park in 2008, and renamed Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras.In 2012, the Grand Finale Parade expanded out of the park and onto the streets of Causeway Bay, and in 2013 the very first illuminated Night Parade took place. The Mardi Gras was inspired by international arts festivals and carnivals such as London’s Notting Hill Carnival and Brazil’sRio de Janeiro Carnival.