Enjoy mooncakes in Hong Kong during the Mid-Autumn festival

By: Adam Singleton

As the longest lingering bastion of the British Empire, Hong Kong has often attracted attention from historians, media stalwarts and ordinary travellers alike. However, anyone keen to escape the hustle and bustle of Kowloon and the crowded streets of Central should make sure to visit Hong Kong when it's in its least commercial time of year - during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in a range of East Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Vietnam , Malaysia and Singapore. Originally, the festival commemorated the 14th century Chinese uprising against the Mongols, in which the rebels spread the word of revolution on pieces of paper that were hidden in cakes. Today, however, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a pan-Asian celebration of togetherness and harmony, and generally falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month of the Chinese calendar (often mid-to-late September or early October).

Anyone visiting Hong Kong during the Mid-Autumn Festival will be treated to a colourful showcase, where families make up and light bright lanterns throughout the city. Traditionally, lanterns are made in the shape of animals but more recently, modern technological icons, like space ships and aeroplanes, have also been a popular choice.

Moreover, the Mid-Autumn Festival is often called the 'mooncake' festival, since mooncakes are traditionally eaten during this time. Mooncakes (or yuek beng) are widely considered a delicacy, and are sweet, baked cakes that consist of a thin, soft skin with a sugary, oily filling. Often, mooncakes will contain one or more whole salted duck egg yolks in the centre to symbolise the full moon, while the actual filling can vary according to regional culture.

The original mooncake filling is popularly believed to be lotus seed paste, which (due to its high price) is often substituted by white kidney bean paste instead. Other seed pastes that are used to fill mooncakes include red bean paste (made from adzuki beans), mung bean and black bean paste; but jujube paste and five kernel paste are also popular. As well as indulging in special mooncakes, many Chinese families will also eat pomeloes (a large type of grapefruit) while having barbeques outside under the moon.

Flights to Hong Kong leave London so regularly that it's relatively simple these days to make a quick trip to the city over a period of a few days. And, if you've got friends or family in Hong Kong, or you simply want to explore one of Asia 's most fascinating cities, the Mid-Autumn Festival is the perfect time to visit.

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