What’s on? Things to do this November in Hong Kong

Mark your calendars and see the amazing swim across Victoria Harbour or views flicks at the film festivals or absorb cultural offerings at museums, music festivals and dance performances this November.

New World Harbour Race

Against the superb and unforgettable backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline, this challenging swim allows competitors to test their mettle in the waters of Victoria Harbour. The cross-harbour race, which traces its roots back to 1906, is always a popular draw and welcomes thousands of avid participants from across the world. Swimmers on the day will commence from the Bauhinia Square Public Pier in Wan Chai and finish at the Avenue of Stars, Tsim Sha Tsui. The quota for entrants this year has increased to 4,000 and there will be an elite International Race as well as hardy swimmers from across the Greater Bay Area taking the plunge.

When: 12 November

Where: Victoria Harbour

How much: Free

Muse Fest HK 2023

Explore the cultural delights on offer across various venues in the city’s history, art and science museums under the theme ‘Hong Kong H.A.S. Museums. All month there are multifarious events designed to broaden your horizons and understanding of mind-blowing subjects such as the wonders of science fiction as portrayed at an exhibition staged by the Hong Kong Science Museum. A two-day carnival entitled ‘A Fiesta of Imagination’ is a highlight. This is just one of a superb series of events and programmes across many venues which allow visitors to absorb knowledge and soak up culture.

When: 1-30 November

Where: Various venues

How much: Free

For more information: museums.gov.hk

The Great Gatsby

Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre captures the essence of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, in a wonderful portrayal of life lived to excess in opulent 1920s America – a tale of never-ending parties, unbridled greed and obsessive desires simmering not far from the surface in high-society New York. Performed against the backdrop of a steamy jazz-infused soundtrack and art deco sets by Tim Yip, dancers along with vocalist E. Faye Butler and narrator James Seol capture the spirit of the age.

When: 4-5 November

Where: Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

How much: From $220

Jewish Film Festival

Asia’s flagship Jewish festival has gone from strength to strength and now offers a magnificently diverse range of films showcasing Jewish life. The number of filmmakers keen for their work celebrating the Jewish tradition to be showcased in Hong Kong has grown, with 21 features, documentaries and short films able to be enjoyed.

When: 11-19 November

Where: Golden Scene Cinema, Kennedy Town

How much: From $110 per film; all access pass HK$1,800

For more information: hkjff.org

Asian Film Festival

Watch some of the finest films Asia has to offer at various cinemas throughout Hong Kong. Almost 100 films will be aired during the festival, which has gained international recognition for the quality and breadth of its programme. In addition to locally produced features, regional selections from the far and near will be screened. Masterclasses and workshops will be staged by renowned filmmakers such as Shunji Iwai and Koji Yakusho, while eight directors including Taiwan’s Lee Hong- chi vie for the New Talent Award.

When: Until 17 November

Where: Various venues

How much: From $95

For more information: hkaff.asia

Pop Culture Festival

Hong Kong certainly has its own distinctive pop culture and a whole raft of acts will be performing throughout a festival that urges us to ‘Let’s Pop’. There will also be outdoor activities, thematic exhibitions and film screenings to bring back memories and conjure up masterpieces from Hong Kong’s golden era of Cantopop in the ’80s and ’90s. The festival highlights the progress over the years of local pop music, its creativity and its character.

When: Until 18 November

Where: Various venues

How much: Various prices

For more information: pcf.gov.hk

Killing TV

Interaction between art and television is the concept behind Killing TV, as 15 contemporary artists from a mix of backgrounds contribute to an exhibition that explores the cultural, psychological and social impact of the boob tube. A range of videos including performance art and sculptural installations as well as TV shows and commercials will excite the senses and stimulate memories from the past, present and the future while addressing television’s pervasive power since the 1970s.

When: Until 19 November

Where: Tai Kwun

How much: Free

For more information: taikwun.hk

Night Vibes Hong Kong @ Museums

As efforts to support the ‘Night Vibes Hong Kong’ campaign gather momentum, Hong Kong museums are offering special programmes to bolster evenings out around town. The Hong Kong Museum of Art presents a range of exhibitions and screens a romantic local film.

When: Until 26 November

Where: Hong Kong Museum of Arts, Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum

How much: Various prices

For more information: lcsd.gov.hk

Great Music 2023

Winding down this month is a series of concerts under the Great Music 2023 umbrella that has seen musicians from around the world gather in Hong Kong to perform a plethora of programmes catering to a wide variety of tastes. The eclectic musical mix concludes with some superb piano-centric performances. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott team up once again, youthful South Korean talent Seong-Jin Cho hits the keys during a stirring recital, and veteran Brazilian jazz artist Eliane Elias lets rip.

When: Until 28 November

Where: Various venues

How much: Various prices

For more information: lcsd.gov.hk

WS of Wednesday: We explore the Ws and How of Jenna Ortega’s success like any projects investigated in depth

Jenna Ortega

Instantly transforming what Wednesday means to many of us, a recently-debuted Netflix series going by that very name broke the streaming service’s all-time record for the most hours viewed in a week. Its success has also transformed the life of the star taking the title role – Jenna Ortega – as shown by her Instagram account alone, which registered an extra 10 million followers within 10 days of the series premiere. 

It would be unfair, however, to bill the 20-year-old star as an overnight success. Even before her casting in the series, a spin-off of the much-loved Adams Family franchise, she had a resumé longer than that of many performers twice her age. There is no doubt, though, that it is her performance as the unblinking, seemingly emotionless, misanthrope at the heart of the series that has seen her now assume A-lister status. 

In honour of ‘W’ being the initial of her breakthrough role, here are six other ‘W’s you really need to know about Ortega, undoubtedly one of 2023’s first new superstars. 

Jenna Ortega

WHERE is she from? 

With her striking looks, signature brunette locks and petite build, it is clear that Ortega is far from just another graduate of Hollywood’s cookie-cutter production line. Sharing joint Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, she grew up in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, with her diverse heritage later becoming a common line of enquiry during her many chat show appearances. 

Explaining how embracing her identity was one of the many reasons she was able to make the Wednesday role her own, she says: “A big part of why I said yes comes down to representation. Growing up, I got to know how it felt never to see people who looked like me on screen only too well. For me, with Wednesday, it was really important that her history as a young Latina was shown for the first time.”

Jenna Ortega

WHAT has she appeared in before? 

According to her IMDB website, Ortega had notched up some 40 credits prior to taking on the lead in Wednesday, with her roles ranging from voice acting to major parts and guest appearances. As a sure sign that her talents had not gone unnoticed even before Wednesday’s seismic impact, she is believed to have quite a full slate of future roles all signed up and agreed upon. 

While she first found fame providing voiceovers for children’s programs, including Elena of Avalor and the Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle, her career appears to be heading in a different direction, with two of her upcoming projects said to be very much in the horror genre. 

Declaring she has a particular affinity with the scarier end of the cinema spectrum, she says: “There’s some invisible string that connects monsters and me. It’s a genre that’s held a particular appeal for me for as long as I can remember.

For those keen not to miss out on any of her future appearances, her currently confirmed forthcoming projects include Finestkind, Scream 6 and Miller’s Girl. 

Also Read: Gal Power: Gal Gadot shatters superhero glass ceiling with Wonder Woman debut

Jenna Ortega
(Photo by Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Creative Artists Agency)

WHY did she not blink while working on Wednesday? 

Although her blink-free performance in Wednesday wasn’t initially scripted, Director Tim Burton was so taken with the results of an unintentional take that he urged her to fully incorporate the conceit into her portrayal of the character. Ortega, of course, is fully committed to it, with the quirky characteristic going on to almost define the role for critics and viewers alike. 

As the character of Wednesday was conceived as singularly strange from the outset, it more than made sense that not blinking was just one of the many things that distinguished her from more everyday mortals. In combination with the character’s full-on, unflinching gaze, it also made the one moment in the series when the character actually smiles genuinely unsettling. 

Clearly proud of the way her performance has been received, as well as its significance for others, she says with her tongue firmly in her cheek: “Freak representation is crucial. I think that it’s really nice for such people to be seen in a positive – if disturbing – light.” 

Jenna Ortega

WHO is her fashion icon? 

Well, it just happens to be Wednesday Addams, the full name of her on-screen character. This is perhaps just as well seeing that, in her latest incarnation, Wednesday is seen as having clearly fully embraced her goth persona, and Ortega is a firm believer that her all-black wardrobe played a crucial role in creating the show’s slightly creepy, slightly cooky feel. 

Clearly identifying more with this role than perhaps with some of the other characters she has brought to life, Ortega says: “I feel like Wednesday and I like similar things. I’ve always loved button-ups and white collars, for instance, and, of course, I’ve always gravitated towards dark colours – including black nail polish, which has now become very much part of my everyday look.” 

Case in point: Ortega has recently been stepping out in looks that seem like homages to her TV character, donning black à la Versace and Valentino at events. 

(Text: Joseff Musa)

Read the full article in the March 2023 issue (pg: 110). Available on the Gafencu app on Android and Apple.

Everything Everywhere All at Once Shines at the 95th Academy Awards, and makes Oscars history.

95th academy awards
Blaine Ohigashi / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Having just dominated the SAG awards two weeks ago with four wins, it clearly came as no surprise that Everything Everywhere All at Once swept the most awards at the Oscars too.

The movie was directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert and follows the life of Chinese immigrant Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh, who has quite a lot of things going on in her life – Her laundromat is being audited by the IRS; her husband Waymond Wang, played by Ke Huy Quan, is on the verge of divorcing her; she is having her pernickety father for a Lunar New Year Party; and she is unable to come to terms with her daughter (played by Stephanie Hsu) Joy Wang’s relationship with a non-Chinese girlfriend.

95th Academy Awards

With all that is happening, Evelyn’s life is anything but dull, that is until she is sucked into a multiverse where there are different possible versions of her that would have resulted from a particular decision she took. As a protagonist, Evelyn has to use her verse-jumping abilities to save the multiverse from her daughter who has formed an everything-bagel sort of phenomenon that can suck the different universes and destroy all of them.

There are quite a lot of movies that deal with the multiverse genre. There is The Matrix from the top of our heads. However, the Daniels-directed movie goes for a completely unique representation of the multiverse genre with its exhilarating plot packed with action and quirky humour that is so absurd. For instance, Evelyn has sausage fingers in one universe.

95th academy awards

The queer science-fiction movie perfectly touches on the topic of existential crisis as it explores the what-ifs of Evelyn’s life, and also deals with nihilism, absurdism and other philosophical concepts that add more layers to the already-overwhelming storyline.

With an IMDB score of 8 and a 95 per cent Rotten Tomatoes score, Everything Everywhere All at Once shined at the Oscars by taking home the most trophies. The movie won the following awards at the 95th Annual Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role – Michelle Yeoh, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Ke Huy Quan, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Jamie Lee Curtis, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director – Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, and Best Film Editing – Paul Rogers.

95th academy awards
Blaine Ohigashi / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Michelle Yeoh’s win was historic as she became the first Asian actress in 95 years to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. It was a more prideful moment for Hong Kongers as she said in her acceptance speech, “…and to my extended family in Hong Kong, where I started my career. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders, giving me a leg up so that I can be here today.”

Also Read: Five things you need to know about the widely talented Michelle Yeoh

What’s On? Things to do this March in Hong Kong

If you want to groove to the best beats, there is Clockenflap, and if admiring some mesmerising art pieces is your idea of an awesome day, then, there are Art Basel and Art Central. Simply put, art, music, and endless entertainment are taking over March with so many exciting, and eagerly-awaited events lined up for the month. Find out about all the fun March 2023 events scheduled to happen.

Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now

best things to do in March 2023

Contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is known for her avant-garde paintings and sculptures, and her choice of bright and colourful palette attributes that M+ will no doubt be highlighting in its coming showcase of more than two hundred of the artist’s works. Among these, are many of her more recent works, including Pumpkin, Death of Nerves, and Dots ObsessionAspiring to Haven’s Love

When: Ongoing

Price: From HK$240

Location: West Gallery, The Studio, Main Hall, Lightwell, and Found Space, M+ Building, West Kowloon.

For more information: mplus.org.hk

Eternal Enlightenment: the Virtual World of Jiajing Emperor

best things to do in March 2023

Some 500 years ago, the Jiajing Emperor wished to become immortal. To be fair, he has kind of got what he sought courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Arts, with the venerable institution having organised a Jiajing Emperor-themed exhibition that brings to life the history of his dynasty through 240 intricately designed ceramics, portraits, and other art forms. Among the highlights of the exhibition is, undoubtedly, a blue porcelain collection set out on a 14-metre-long table by Angel Hui Hoi-kiu.

When: Ongoing

Price: Free entry

Location: Hong Kong Museum of Art

For more information: hk.art.museum


best things to do in March 2023

Never failing to bring together an ensemble of truly exceptional acts from all around the world over an outdoor weekend of bewitching music and outstanding art is the three-day trilithon that is Clockenflap. The event, which prides itself on featuring a wide range of different musical genres, including rock, hip-hop, rap, and indie, is set to feature Ginger Root, Men I Trust, YoungQueenz, and many, many more in its participation lineup for 2023 Clockenflap. Already announced to headline on Friday night is the English rock band Arctic Monkeys in their much-anticipated performance in Hong Kong.

When: (3 – 5 Mar)

Price: From HK$1620

Location: Central Harbourfront Event Space

For more information: clockenflap.com

Also Read: Music Therapy: What is music therapy and who exactly does it benefit?

Homemade Sushi Making Class with Shima Shimizu

best things to do in March 2023

If a new skill is what you are looking to acquire this month, then why not try your hand at preparing your own sushi? Attend a session armed with only a pen and an apron and go back home fully equipped to make Gunkan-maki and Nigiri-sushi. Under the expert tutelage of Chef Shima Shimizu, the class will prepare you to make perfectly delicious sushi by teaching you all the important steps in the process – most notably cooking the rice and seasoning the fish correctly. Also, don’t forget to skip lunch beforehand as you will certainly have a lot of sushi sampling to get through. 

When: 4 Mar

Price: From H$880

Location: Food Craft

For more information: foodcraft.hk

Hong Kong Food Walk with Chef ArChan Chan

best things to do in March 2023

If you are a foodie or a cultural enthusiast, then you are definitely going to want to sign up for this food walk in the company of Archan Chan, head chef of renowned Cantonese eatery Ho Lee Fook. A four-hour stroll forms part of the annual Hong Kong International Literary Festival and brings to life the chef’s book —Hong Kong Local: Cult Recipes From The Streets That Make The City.

When: 7 Mar

Price: From HK$965

Location: Sai Ying Pun

For more information: festival.org.hk

Dance-Opera–Love Streams

best things to do in March 2023

Those on the lookout for a truly immersive and riveting opera performance should probably check out Hong Kong Arts Festival Society’s Dance-Opera–Love Streams. This stunning concert will showcase the skills of a group of talented dancers from the Hong Kong Dance Company, as well as 12 acclaimed opera singers and musicians. Directed and choreographed by Yang Yuntao, the show comprises the two much-loved pieces –Heart of Coral and Women Like Us.

When: 17 – 19 Mar

Price: From HK$200

Location: The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

For more information: hk.artsfestival.org

The Stage Doors on Mars

best things to do in March 2023

The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra is promising to take you on a journey to Mars in 2057. Pre-commemorating this admittedly distant magnificent Martian event will be a scintillating array of Cantonese opera as the perfect sci-fi soundtrack. While part of the event will catapult you to the far future, another will take you on a trip to the past as you revisit many important musical events from the last century.

When: 17 – 18 Mar

Price:  From HK$250

Location: Hong Kong City Hall

For more information: hk.artsfestival.org

Art Central

best things to do in March 2023

March is surely a compelling month for connoisseurs of creativity given all the art events set to take place in the weeks ahead. Among the most intriguing is the eighth edition of Art Central, which will be taking place as part of Hong Kong Art Week. Featuring works of both established and upcoming artists from all over the world, you should be most excited about Hong Kong’s very own Sammi Mak and Korean painter Han Choong Seok. 

When: 22 – 25 Mar

Price: From HK$125

Location: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

For more information: artcentralhongkong.com

Also Read: Vibrant City: Hong Kong’s growing art scene

Art Basel

best things to do in March 2023

When it comes to going big, Art Basel is doing exactly that for its 2023 event, a move down to Hong Kong having lifted all of its travel restrictions, allowing more local and international art lovers than ever to participate in this high-profile annual extravaganza. This year, the show is set to welcome more than 150 exhibitors from all over the world, while also seeing the return of Encounters, the dedicated zone for big art installations, which had been on a Covid-mandated hiatus. 

When: 23 – 25 Mar

Price: From H$280

Location: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre

For more information: artbasel.com

Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon

best things to do in March 2023

Undoubtedly French designer Coco Chanel revolutionised women’s fashion as indicated by the fact that her fame has endured more than 50 years after her death. Commemorating this inimitable icon, Hong Kong Ballet is celebrating her life through an exquisitely conceived and executed ballet routine courtesy of award-winning choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The dance performance is memorably soundtracked by Peter Salem’s sensational score, while Jerome Kaplan provides the eye-catching costumes. 

When: 24 – 26 Mar

Price: From HK$180

Location: The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

For more information: hkballet.com

Henry Cavill – A Man of Many Substances

As soon as he donned the iconic suit of Superman in Man of Steel (2013), British actor Henry Cavill wasn’t a bird, wasn’t a plane, he was a superstar. Up until then, he’d enjoyed only moderate success, having appeared in relatively low-profile supporting roles in a handful of movies, including The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) and Stardust (2007), while also having a recurring role in The Tudors, a TV historical drama. With one bound, though, his take on Krypton’s favourite son saw his standing go stratospheric, while many subsequent roles – most notably his starring role in The Witcher, the smash hit Netflix series – only added to his legend.

Henry Cavill

As of October last year, it looked all but certain that he was about to resume his Superman duties, when he unexpectedly cameoed at the end of Black Adam (2022), his first appearance in the famous red and blue costume for five years. Although at the time, Warner Brothers, the company behind the DC movie slate appeared to confirm he was to return in all-new adventures for the hero, all such hopes were dashed in December. This followed the news that new creative heads would be steering the DC superheroes stable of future cinematic and TV appearances. As Cavill had just quit his $1 million-an-episode role in The Witcher, apparently in favour of his Superman duties, this must have been something of a blow. 

Speaking just after it was confirmed DC was looking to recast the caped comic-strip hero, Cavill said: “This news isn’t the easiest, but that’s life. The changing of the guard is something that happens and I respect that.” 

There is, however, way more to Cavill than just either wowing audiences in The Witcher or being Clark Kent’s alter ego. Here are eight unknown facts you probably never knew about Mr C. 

Henry Cavill

1. The Real Deal

He’s unusually honest about what drives his career, saying: “I’m slightly wary of saying this, because it can be frowned upon, certainly by members of my community and people outside my community. Money is fantastic and that’s something which I deem – and again, it is frowned upon – very important. I’m spending it on nice stuff. Whether that be lavish holidays for me and my friends or just seeing something and going in a shop and saying, ‘Yeah, I want that for the house, I’m buying it.’”

2. An Animal Lover

More altruistically, however, Cavill serves as the spokesperson for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, as well as managing Cavill Conservation, a personal project dedicated to preventing the extinction of endangered species.

Also Read: Gal Power: Gal Gadot Shatters Superhero Glass Ceiling With Wonder Woman Debut

Henry Cavill

3. The First Brit Superman

The typical take on Superman as an all-American alien took something of a knock when Cavill landed the role in 2013. Despite having an accent that sounds straight out of the Midwest, Cavill was actually born in Jersey, the largest of the UK’s Channel Islands. Sharing his secret of sounding genuinely US-born, he said: “Doing an American accent is about working the muscles in your neck and your lips.”

4. Hollywood’s Unluckiest Lad

Before securing his big break, Cavill was known as the Unluckiest Man in Hollywood, largely on account of his habit of narrowly missing out on high-profile roles. Most famously, he was pipped to being James Bond by Daniel Craig and to make matters worse, he also failed to secure the starring role in an earlier take on Superman, with that particular honour falling to Brandon Routh. Most egregiously, he was overlooked for the role of Edward Cullen in the series of movies based on Twilight, Stephanie Meyer’s Young Adult vampire series. This was despite the fact that the author actually had him in mind for the part while she was writing the books. Ultimately though, he was deemed to look too old, with Robert Pattinson actually taking on the starring mantle. Adding insult to injury, Pattison is three years older than Cavill.

Also Read: Robert Pattinson – From Child Actor To Hollywood Heavyweight

Henry Cavill

5. A man of many languages

In addition to English, Cavill can reputedly speak French, Spanish, Italian, German and Czech. Asked why he was so linguistically proficient, he said: “In school, I had an interest in languages, ancient history and Egyptology in particular. There was a historical fiction writer named Christian Jacq who wrote a series of books, sort of Egyptology-based, and I really enjoyed them.”

6. Grease was the word

When he first began acting in high school, he played the character of Sonny in the beloved musical Grease. He’s featured in the centre of the picture, wearing a white jacket, and is easily recognisable by his jet-black hair. 

Henry Cavill
Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Salangsang/Shutterstock (13661895ga) Henry Cavill and Natalie Viscuso ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ film premiere, Los Angeles, California, USA – 12 Dec 2022

7. Superfat

Despite now being renowned for his Adonislike looks and stature, Cavill wasn’t always the herculean figure he is today. Due to his puppy fat, while attending boarding school, he was rather derogatorily known as “Fat Cavill”. Recalling those days, he says: “I bawled on the phone to my mom four times a day and I became an easy target for bullies.” He put his fat days behind him after winning his role in The Count of Monte Cristo, promptly losing 21 pounds and becoming more – or, rather, less – the man we know today.

8. Man of the future

Not content with a life in front of the camera, Cavill also has ambitions to get behind the lens. To that end, he formed Promethean Productions in 2014 in collaboration with his brother Charlie and British producer Rex Glensy. At one time, Stratton, an action-packed thriller based on the Duncan Falconer book series, was set to be the company’s cinematic debut offering. Unfortunately, this fell through, with both Cavill and Promethean ultimately exiting the project. Despite that disappointment and his enforced bowing out of any future Superman project, things are far from downbeat for Mr Cavill. His next outing is tipped to be Warhammer 40,000, an Amazon series based on the miniature wargame of the same title. While he may be Krypton’s Last Son no more, it seems certain that we haven’t seen the end of his on-screen heroics.

(Text: Joseff Musa)

What’s On? Things to do this February in Hong Kong

There is something for everyone to enjoy this February. From concerts for music lovers and marathons for fitness buffs to Russell Peters’ stand-up comedy and many more events in line, here are all the fun-filled things to do in Hong Kong this month.

The Hong Kong Arts Festival

The Hong Kong Arts Festival returns for its 51st iteration this month. Each and every year the festival manages to cram in an astonishing array of performances, typically ranging from much-loved classical favourites to more outré, experimental productions. In addition to its active programme of international features, the Festival also commissions and produces theatre, chamber opera and contemporary dance performances by Hong Kong’s own creative talents. The festival also offers a diverse range of supporting and educational activities.

When: 17 Feb
Price: Prices vary
Location: Various locations

For more information: hk.artsfestival.org

AOMG Concert – Follow The Movement

Following the Hong Kong appearances of two of the world’s most popular girl groups last month, it’s once again a treat for the city’s K-Pop fans with confirmation that six of the musicians signed up to Korea’s record label, AOMG, will be appearing in Hong Kong. Soulful songs from Lee Hi and Yugyueom, high-energy rap performances from Simon Dominic and Loco, moody and mellow tunes from Gray and Woo Won Jae and collaborative performances from the whole pantheon are all on offer for just one night at KITEC.

When: 3 Feb
Price: From HK$988
Location: Star Hall, KITEC

Spin Expo Hong Kong

The Spin Expo is the leading industry-sourcing exhibition dedicated to innovation in the yarns, fibre and knitwear sectors. Attracting international exhibitors, the show welcomes a diverse range of businesses, including many of the market leaders in the ready-to-wear, knitwear, hosiery, activewear, and homeware sectors. The show has long been a fixture on the calendar of the fashion world’s key decision-makers, sourcing professionals, designers and buyers.

When: 8-9 Feb
Price: Free entry
Location: The Space, Lai Chi Kok

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon

The 2022 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon will actually – and slightly confusingly – take place this month. A signature event on the city’s sporting calendar, the Marathon never fails to attract racers from Hong Kong and across the world, making it one of Asia’s most popular running events. There are a number of categories,with the family run, the full marathon (42km long), the half-marathon (21km) and the 3km wheelchair race proving the most popular.

When: 12 Feb
Price: Prices vary
Location: Different locations

For more information: sc.com

Westlife Concert

Get ready to enjoy a vintage Westlife performance, one that will make your Valentine’s evening a truly unforgettable one. The band – Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne – is finally able to bring The Wild Dreams Tour to Hong Kong. As part of what is to be a special night, the band will not only be treating fans to stunning renditions of many of their greatest hits but will also be playing their acclaimed new single, Starlight, for the very first time in Hong Kong.

When: 14 Feb
Price: From $699
Location: AsiaWorld-Expo 

For more information: hkticketing.com

Russell Peters – Act Your Age

If you haven’t yet encountered Russell Peters, then you’ve missed out on one of the true highlights of the comedy scene. This extraordinarily talented and hilarious man has been performing since the 80s and has played to standingroom- only audiences in countless countries around the world, as well as appearing in several high-profile TV shows and big-budget movies. As part of his Act Your Age world tour, the Canadian comedian will be performing at Kitec Hall in EMax on February 15.

When: 15 Feb
Price: From $599
Location:Discovery Bay Main Plaza 

For more information: handmadehongkong.com

Vegetarian Food Asia

As Hong Kong’s most comprehensive vegetarian and green lifestyle exhibition, VFA prides itself on showcasing a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan products from around the world. The three day event is said to be larger than ever with more than 600 vegetarian, vegan, green living, natural and organic product brands participating, while 5,000 different foods, products and services will all be on offer. 50 onsite activities will also be provided for attendees.

When: 17-19 Feb
Price: From $25
Location: HKCEC 

For more information: egfoodasia.com

One Republic

The American pop rock band OneRepublic is best known for such all-time chart-toppers as Apologize and Counting Stars, while, more recently, I Ain’t Worried, proved one of the highlights of the Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack. You’d be advised to secure tickets as soon as possible if you want to enjoy the band’s notoriously high energy on-stage performance as part of this critically-acclaimed world tour.

When: 21 Feb
Price: From $599
Location: AsiaWorld-Expo

For more information: hkticketing.com

Oxfam Trailwalker

The Oxfam Trailwalker is now one of the largest fundraising sporting events in Hong Kong. More than 100,000 participants have raised some HK$600 million in support of Oxfam’s many poverty alleviation and emergency relief projects across Africa and Asia (including Hong Kong and mainland China). The event will start at the Pak Tam Chung Snack Stand in Sai Kung and then proceed across sections one to nine of the Maclehose Trail.

When: 24-26 Feb
Price: From $1600 per team
Location: Different locations

For more information: oxfamtrailwalker.org.hk

From a Disney newbie to a Grammy winner, Olivia Rodrigo is now a bona fide superstar

At the tender age of just 19, you might be forgiven for thinking Olivia Rodrigo would be just getting to grips with widespread fame and international recognition. The American-Filipina songstress exudes such confidence and poise, however, that she inevitably comes across as a seasoned veteran, one quite au fait with global renown. Indeed, Rodrigo has embraced her celebrity status with a maturity that truly belies her age and the rapidity of her rise to  worldwide acclaim.

The 2022 Billboard Woman of the Year’s trajectory to pop stardom is very much the stuff dreams are made of, an outcome she describes as “overwhelming! And exciting…and lucky”. A truly talented singer and songwriter, she has taken the world by storm with her emotionally charged songs of heartbreak, jealousy and the traumas of growing up. As her music is every bit as catchy as her lyrics are accessible, her fan base now straddles every border and every age group.

Born on 20th February 2003 in the city of Murrieta in Southern California, she got her first real taste of fame in 2019 when she starred in High School Musical: The Series, a major hit for Disney+. This was a big break for the then 16-year-old, the only child to her Filipino therapist father and her German-Irish mother.

Although making her a familiar name to millions, High School Musical was far from her TV debut. In 2015, she played the all-singing lead in the Grace Stirs Up Success, one of the American Girl series of family movies. The next year she was cast as Paige Olvera in Disney’s Bizaardvark TV comedy series. It was really High School Musical, though, that saw everything change for her. Looking to follow the success of the movie of the same name, the series followed a group of high-school drama club members as they stage various musical performances. In 2019, the series showcased All I Want, Rodrigo’s own composition, which she followed with a second self-penned track in 2020, Just for a Moment, a duet she performed with co-star Joshua Bassett.

Keen to continue writing and performing songs, she released Driver’s License as a single in 2021, a teenage heartbreak ballad that went to number one on the Billboard chart, making her the youngest person ever to achieve such a feat. The song went on to break Spotify records for the most streams of any non-holiday tune in a day (17 million) and in a week (66 million).

A few months later she followed up with Déjà Vu, a co-written song that went straight in at number eight on the Billboard chart, making the first singer to have both of their first singles debut in the top ten. She followed this up later that year with Sour, her first album, a blend of pop, folk and alternative rock that bought her album both critical acclaim and commercial success.

Her hard work and perseverance paid off again in 2022 when she won Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance (Driver’s License) and Best Pop Vocal Album (Sour) at that year’s Grammy Awards. Keen listeners will have little trouble in identifying the overarching theme running through Sour, as it is basically a clearly personal treatise on heartbreak, emotionally documenting the sweet and sour drama of teenage relationships while lamenting their almost inevitable painful endings. On Driving Home 2 U, for instance, she laments “The heartbreak that kept on giving,” While she has never named the ex-partner in question, she has not been afraid to elaborate on other details, such as how she cried in a parking lot when she felt “like my world was ending every day”.

Eminently relatable, another of Sour’s most memorable tracks, Jealousy, Jealousy deals with the feelings of anxiety triggered by social media, whilst Hope Ur OK is an unashamed message of support for those coming to terms with their sexuality. Brutal, meanwhile, is an up-tempo pop-punk-esque track penned in response to public interest and speculation about her private life, her music and the loneliness she has not been afraid to discuss. Recalling that time, she says: “It was very strange. I remember feeling lonely and I remember wanting a boyfriend really bad.”

Where many musical artists release films merely as a means of showcasing their favourite live performances “Driving Home 2 U”, a film covering the making of Sour, feels infinitely more
personal and provides unique insight into not only Rodrigo’s life but her artistic process. It is also a true testament to her undeniable talent as both a singer and songwriter.

Outlining just why she felt she had to make it, she says: “I really wanted to make this film for my fans, especially those fans who maybe couldn’t see me on tour. I thought it’d be really cool if they got to see new arrangements of the songs, kind of as if it’s a whole new concert.

I had a lot of fun playing with different sonics and different ways that you could kind of position these songs that I’ve gotten comfortable with over the past year. It was kind of like stretching a new creative muscle.”

While it may appear that Rodrigo’s talent allows her to flex those creative muscles with almost effortless ease, the truth is an incredible amount of hard work seems to go into her every single song, with Rodrigo maintaining she is her own harshest critic. Expanding on this she says: “I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself all the time, There were bits of that in the film where I talked about how I was like: ‘Oh, I don’t like this song. It can be better and sometimes that can be hard…I’m way too hard on myself, sometimes past the point of being truly productive.”

While she may be hard on herself, the famously prolific songwriter has not let that stop her from churning out hit after hit, an impressive run that looks set to continue as she returns to the studio with collaborator Dan Nigro to work on a follow-up to her smash hit debut album. In fact, Rodrigo already has a name for the new album and more than a few songs in the pipeline.

Offering a tempting glimpse of what lies in store for fans, she says: “It’s really exciting to think about what’s coming up from me next. While I just love writing songs, I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself and just sort of explore and have fun right now.”

If her success and ever-growing fan-base are any indicators, Rodrigo’s love for music and incredible talent is as infectious as it is universally appealing. For this particular 19-yearold the future looks bright, something she herself acknowledges, saying: “I’m so excited to make my next record and explore more colours and textures and feelings, while I continue to grow as both a person and an artist.”


(Text: Hans Schlsikier)

What’s On? Things to do this January in Hong Kong

Get off to an exciting start of the new year as Hong Kong gets back on track to being a bustling city with multiple concerts, sport events, exhibitions and fairs.

K-pop Sensation Mamamoo

With many longstanding Covid-related restrictions having now been lifted, Hong Kong’s entertainment calendar is set to team with live music events, with concertgoers now having a lot to look forward to. Indeed, many of the city’s favourite international artists are soon to put in an appearance, with one of the first set to be K-pop girl group Mamamoo. This will see its four members – Hwasa, Solar, Moonbyul and Wheein – hit the stage as part of their pan-Asia My Con tour. Unsurprisingly, tickets are selling fast, so act quick or expect to be disappointed.

When: 7 Jan 
Price: From HK$900-1600 
Location: Asia-world Expo

HK International Stationery Fair

A regular joint venture between Messe Frankfurt and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, this is one of the major sourcing events in the Asia-Pacific region for gift stationery, art and craft supplies, office supply products and writing instruments sectors. Exhibitors from a multitude of different countries will be bringing many of their finest products to the city as part of this one-stop showcase of the latest and greatest stationary items from around the world. Running in parallel with the expo proper is a series of related educational seminars, master classes and creative workshops.

When: 9-11 Jan
Price: Free entry
Location: HKCEC, Wanchai

Hong Kong Toys and Games

The much-awaited return of the HKTDC Toys and Games Fair to its in-person format sees an extensive array of the ultimate entertainment experiences for younger consumers all on offer. With dedicated zones for Toys, Baby Toys, Dolls, Educational Toys, Electronic Games, Sports Equipment, Video Games and Board Games, this is one fun expo that has something for pretty much every taste. Also in the mix are special displays for innovative and smart tech toys from all around the world, making the show almost as educational and recreational.

When: 9-12 Jan
Price: Free entry
Location: HKCEC, Wanchai

Black Pink Concert

The new year in Hong Kong is clearly going to start with a bang thanks to the long-awaited arrival of record-breaking South Korean girl band BlackPink. The K-pop sensation quartet are stopping over as part of a World Tour in support of Born Pink, their huge-selling comeback album. The ‘Blinks’, will no doubt be spellbound as they perform their many mega-hits, including Kill This Love and, of course, Boombayah and Ddu-du Ddu-du. Secure your tickets because they are sure to sell out fast.

When: 13-15 Jan
Price: HK$1000-3000
Location: Asia-world expo

Chinese New year Flower Market

Chinese New Year Flower Market is the place to be if you really want to properly get in the mood for the coming festivities. As well as getting your pick of the finest fresh flowers, fruits and confectionery, there is also the opportunity to enjoy breath-taking performances from traditional Chinese magicians, acrobats, folk dancers and opera, all while breathing in the fragrance of spring. The festival is a paradise for the bloombesotted.

When: 14-15 Jan
Price: Free entry
Location: Victoria Park, Causeway Bay

Chinese New Year Market

With a guarantee of dozens of vendors and local artisans all proudly selling handmade products, the Sunday market is holding a special shopping festival as part of its celebrations of the new lunar year. Perfect for a shopping spree to start off your new year, the market has everything you need. Promising to be a truly memorable occasion, the market will feature a variety of products and crafts all embodying authentic Chinese culture, giving people an unmissable opportunity to pick up special gifts for their loved ones.

When: 15 Jan
Price: Free entry 
Location:Discovery Bay Main Plaza 

For more information: handmadehongkong.com

The Golden Earth

Black Box Chinese Opera Festival features four innovative productions. Among the highlights are two original and daringly experimental Cantonese operas. Asura Judgement, has been trailed as a uniquely demanding one man adaptation of Law Ka-ying’s Rashomon-inspired ensemble work. No less intriguing is The Imperial Decree, a thought-provoking meditation featuring the talented duo of Keith Lai and Janet Wong.

When: Until 2 Jan
Price: Free entry
Location: Rossi & Rossi Gallery, Wong Chuk Hang

For more information: rossirossi.com

Chasing an Elusive Nature

Highly skilled in the esoteric arts of calligraphy, Jaffa Lam is rightly feted in this iconic exhibition, which brings life to an artistic and personal landscape which is very relatable to the viewers.
An avowed alchemist, the artist famously plays with our established notions of reality, frequently upending and presenting a world characterised by transformation, illusion and revelation.

When: Until 7 Jan
Price: Free entry
Location: Axel Vervoordt Gallery

For more information: ocula.com

The Love of Couture

The first-ever exhibition in Asia to dig deep into more than 200 years of regional fashion development – The Love of Couture: Artisanship in Fashion Beyond Time is said to offer an unprecedented evaluation of the impact of fashion, developed by K11 in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, while being designed by William Chang. The exhibition also brings the works of emerging fashion designers from Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong.

When: Until 29 Jan 
Price: Prices vary
Location: K11 Musea

For more information: k11musea.com

Happily Trevor After – From a nobody to the most talked-about TV host in the US

His once upon a time started when he was born on 20th February 1986 in South Africa which was finally beginning to wake up from the long nightmare of apartheid. Few would have thought that Trevor Noah would one day go on to host one of the highest-rated satirical shows in the US. Nor could many have foreseen that his recently announced departure from that programme – The Daily Show – would fuel a slew of rumours and incite seemingly endless media speculation as to what he – and the show he left behind – would do next.

Much of his success has been down to a singular approach to interviewing, which typically sees him having measured conversations with subjects who hold conflicting viewpoints. This has seen him truly stand out during an era when political views have become ever more polarised and debate has frequently been stifled by attempts to ‘cancel’ those with opposing beliefs from both ends of the political and cultural spectrums.

A Knight in Shining Narratives

Typically, the 36-year-old host has wittily reflected on his past life experiences. These have ranged from the relatively trivial, such as subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty and making comically hapless teenage passes at clearly disinterested girls, to his experiences in jail and his encounters with various murderous gangsters. One recurring theme in his many monologues is his singular take on racism. Having been raised by his Xhosa mother and his Swiss-German father, Noah was always viewed as coloured, with this identity having shaped many of his beliefs and values.

When not busy in Hollywood, travel is one of his go-to pastimes, with this, too, having been incorporated into his comic routines. Famously, this saw him reflect: “I find that what rich people want to do on vacation is what poor people are trying to escape. My friends said let’s go camping. There’ll be no water and no electricity. It’ll just be us and the great outdoors. “For my part, I’d be like: ‘Yeah, that was my life. Do you know how hard I worked to never go camping again? Every day I wake up in my bed and I’m like: “Thank God I’m not camping!”

The American Dream

At one point, he was named both one of The 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media and one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World. Amid all this, several examples of his rare blend of quirkiness and media savviness emerged. Arguably, one of the best instances of this saw him lead the Daily Show staff in a bid to help out a homeless white man who has been living outside their studios for four years in a bunker built from just blankets.

In a monologue that typified his brand of humour, Noah told viewers: “This guy’s homeless, but he’s racist and sexist to black employees and women, but never says anything to the white guys. So, he’s got this weird power dynamic where he goes: “So I’m homeless, but, yeah, I’m still white.’ Then, I’m like: ‘But you’re homeless.’ It’s a really interesting dynamic. In terms of accordance with the rules of wokeness, I don’t know how it works. I don’t know what the rules are.”

Such encounters are all very Trevor Noah – relentlessly kind and infuriatingly earnest, the kind of person who asks questions and then pays attention to the responses. He’s also the kind of person who, though offended by racism, remains analytical about it. “I don’t want to be the hardest-working man in Hollywood. I don’t want to be on the Forbes list. Forbes Happiest List—put me there if there’s such a thing.” he says.

The Rainbow after the Rain

When it was revealed that Noah would take over as host of The Daily Show, things initially got off to a rocky start. At the time, the then-31-year-old relative Hollywood newbie was not a well-known name State-side, and many were stunned that Comedy Central had not opted to go with a bigger domestic star as the anchor of its flagship show.

Controversy then broke out on account of a series of unearthed tweets that some branded as decidedly misogynistic. Together, these negative rumblings saw the show initially lose more than 700,000 viewers per night compared to the figures sustained during Jon Stewart’s final year. The ratings eventually rebounded, partly helped by the show expanding its online reach. To his credit, once he settled in, few people saw him as a little-known black kid permanently filling in for Jon Stewart.

He was open and honest about dealing with depression and anxiety, and he discussed how running The Daily Show, with its rigid schedule, helped him. He also discussed how it can be challenging to maintain your mental health when working as a traveling comedian. “Because you don’t work a 9-to-5 job, stand-up comedians often fail to recognize the symptoms of depression.

So, you assume this is just the life of a comic when some days you wake up at 4 p.m. and sleep all day and other days you can’t get to sleep till 4 a.m.,” he remarked. “Then you understand that it’s not normal and that it has power over you.”

The Rest Is Still Unwritten

After seven years of hosting The Daily Show through a period characterised by both political unrest and the upending of the TV industry, Noah announced his intention to leave the satirical program, with his last episode scheduled to air on 8th December. When he was asked why he is leaving, he responded with a simple “Why not?” Expanding on this, he said: “It’s better to leave when people ask why you’re leaving than leaving when the reaction is ‘good-riddance’.”

Between 2015 and 2022, both Noah and the show went through huge challenges, while also enjoying equally huge successes. The question now, of course, is how does he follow that? Well, his next project is said to be a docuseries, The Tipping Point, which is to have focus on a variety of highly emotive topics, including voter suppression, political polarisation and the tensions surrounding the ever-prickly issue of immigration.

Along with a series of scheduled performances in South Africa next year, he is also reportedly to spend more time with Dua Lipa, with his budding romantic relationship with the British-born disco diva having been celebrated in any number of online memes.

Whatever the future holds, Trevor Noah is just beginning, with his saga ending unplanned.


(Text:Joseff Musa)

The return of the traditional Gafencu Christmas story on why Santa went missing

The Generals mumbled in the tunnels and couldn’t quite catch the eye of anyone passing by. Frown met frown half a kilometre down and a sense of deserved gloom swept from room to room. With a note of clear regret, “There really is no sign yet…” said a junior radar tracker. And the mood got even blacker.

Fists thumped desks of metal, but the question stayed unsettled. And no one quite believed that this late on Christmas Eve there’d yet to be a sign, no flicker along the Rhine, no jubilant Argentine long-awaited confirmation that some distant listening station had finally got to hear an airborne reindeer and a trail of festive fairies touch down in Buenos Aires.

“This is quite beyond precedent. What shall we tell the President?” a chap aghast gasped at last. No one replied though somebody tried to stifle a sigh as everyone gathered wondered quite why there was no sleigh to be seen on any tracking screen as they continued to wait as the day grew late…

Up above, throughout the town, little did they know of the panic down below. Could it really now be true that for Christmas two thousand and 22 Santa would not be appearing, wouldn’t his deer-pulled sleigh be steering to each every and family home from downtown Rio and to Rome, from Rangoon to old Kowloon? Certainly, it was well beyond debate, he’d never left a delivery quite so late.

The grown-ups shuffled, all ashamed, ashenfaced lest they got blamed. The innocent looks of girls and boys, sadly deprived of any new toys saw them sore upbraided, left bereft and distinctly jaded. They could not meet the downbeat gaze of those who’d waited many days for the sleigh-borne gifts crafted during the many shifts of Santa’s crew of keen toy makers and extraordinarily able Christmas cake bakers.

Shivering, cold and clearly, then spoke up one young lad: “Alas, alas, alas, how has this now come to pass? While in every preceding, Santa’s been sure to visit here. Dispensing joy, toy by toy, to children far and children near.

“Never before has he seen fit to let us down, no not one bit. How has every girl and every boy somehow managed to annoy the kindest man to ever live, the kind of man to give and give, the kind who must be sorely riled to break the heart of every child? We must have done something awful something fantastically unlawful, something mean and something cruel, maybe at home, maybe at school, something wicked and something bad, something we wish we never had…”

In every home in every place, a tear ran down nearly every face as girls with curls and boys with no toys took the news with such good grace, blaming themselves for not being good, not behaving as they should, shamefaced that it was their generation that prompted this aberration most shocking of Santa filling not a stocking. Indeed, beneath the boughs of every festive tree, the space was empty, the space was free, where presents should have been, nothing at all could be seen.

The hopes were forlorn, their little hearts battered and the luckless children sat and chattered.

And at last, there came a relieved cheer, a confirmed sighting of both sleigh and deer. Using some magical Santa tricks, however, some enchanted means so clever, the sleigh flying high crossed the sky above every town and every place, delighting every upturned face. Indeed, as the world gazed up that night, all could see the exact same sight – Santa and his sleigh so brightly.

Then, suddenly, it began to write…
What could be behind Santa’s decision to etch with laser-like precision a message written in letters so tall, a message clearly meant for one and all? Up above the world so high, words sparkled in the darkening sky, words of import for those below, words that were far from “Ho, ho, ho…”

Spelled boldly out across the night, a series of words came into sight, each letter carved out with great deliberation as Santa reached out to every nation: 



And with that final flourish, Santa was gone, though his words still glowed and lingered on. And all the children everywhere fixed the adults with a deadly stare. Their look said it all, showed they felt sore and deprived of festive gifts that never arrived.

And the grown-ups were shamefaced one and all, as every unworthy deed did they did recall. “Listen,” they said to every child, who paid attention quite beguiled, “we’ll do better, yes we will, our promise to you we will fulfill. No more cheating, no more lying, we’ll build a better world and keep on trying to make you happy and bring Santa back, with gifts for all within his sack.”

And maybe they’ll succeed and maybe they’ll fail, maybe they’ll be a sequel to this tale.

In the meantime, Happy Christmas from us to you, and Happy Christmas from all here at Gafencu!