Lan Kwai Fong is a zoo on Halloween.
LKF, as it’s known locally, is the one of the most popular places to go out in Hong Kong. It’s home to a host of bars, clubs and restaurants that are usually packed on weekends. On Fridays and Saturdays, the road is closed to traffic and revelers regularly spill out onto the street, drinking and talking into the early hours of the morning.
But October 31 is something else.
Thousands of visitors, locals and expatriates line up to enter the district, many wearing elaborate Halloween outfits and masks. It’s gotten so hectic in recent years that police are deployed ahead of time for crowd control.
“Halloween in LKF has always been known for its crazy street party,” said Gemma, a waitress and bar promoter, who asked to be identified by only her first name.
“But I feel like it is going to be a different vibe this year.”
Earlier this month, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam used colonial-era emergency powers to ban masks at some public gatherings in an attempt to temper months of anti-government protests.
It’s not clear if – and how – the ban will be enforced during a holiday that encourages people to disguise their faces.
And there are concerns chaos could ensue if protesters go ahead with their plans to march to LKF, making it potentially very difficult to tell the difference between protesters and partygoers.
Protests are now a regular occurrence on weekends in Hong Kong, and more unrest is likely to be seen on Halloween as the date marks two months since a particularly violent clash in Kowloon’s Prince Edward subway station.
Graphic video footage from that incident showed police swinging batons in the station, landing some blows on individuals already lying on the ground. Police said the subway clearance operation was a response to citizen reports of disruption and vandalism. Dozens were arrested.