A night at the races in Hong Kong

Every Wednesday night, Chinese and expats come together at the Happy Valley racecourse on Hong Kong island to watch the horse races. Rain or shine, the stadium is always packed on race day, and it certainly was the day we were there.

IMG_3772Gambling is illegal in Hong Kong, except through the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of HK’s oldest institutions founded in 1884 and based at Happy Valley Racecourse in the Wan Chai district. You can imagine the betting frenzy! I had been wanting to go to the races ever since I had read about them, as I was curious about what seemed like a unique blend of Chinese and British cultures… and for the fantastic ambiance!

IMG_3704When we entered the stadium, the atmosphere was already electric and we instantly felt drawn to the track. There was loud music, and live performances kept the public in a cheerful mood. Multiple beer stands probably helped as well… Although I found that there is still a glamourous feel to the experience, hinting at the somewhat aristocratic British ‘day at the races’ feel of yesteryear. The races are, however, open to all today, not just to high society anymore, as the price is so low: HK$10, approximately CDN$1.35! For 4 hours spent at a world-class racetrack, it’s an incredible deal.

IMG_3773Large television screens capture the races (with typically British commentators), but we were able to stand first-row, so close to the running horses that we could feel the vibrations from their hooves pounding the grass!

IMG_3713In between races, the track carekeepers remove the excess debris from the race. This adorable lady, with her traditional bamboo hat, seemed more interested in the setting than in the task at hand!

IMG_3778And how could she not admire the setting, as it is truly impressive with a beautiful view of the night-lit skyline in the background. It makes for a truly surreal experience.

IMG_3710I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would go back anytime. Imagine the glory days of British occupancy mixed with a crazed ambiance of Hong Kongers and tourists wanting to have a good time while cheering on the horse races. Happy Valley really is a fantastic hang-out place, and a night at the races is an amazing activity while in the city. We were thrilled to be able to attend such a fun and festive soirée.

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