Phase one of the revitalisation project of the Central Market was finally completed in August 2021! Are you ready to explore this historical landmark in Hong Kong?
Markets are a big part of Hong Kong culture. From wet markets and supermarkets, to even photogenic markets, we’re blessed with an astounding amount of choice in the 852. But how about a building with elements of all the three markets above – and more? Built 80 years ago and recently renovated, phase one of the Central Market reopened to the public on 23 August 2021. Wondering what all the hype is about? Let us tell you more about this wonderful historical site and how it has been reimagined.
Our guide to Hong Kong’s revitalised Central Market
Storytime: A brief history of the Central Market
Located at the intersection of Queen Victoria Street and Jubilee Street, the Central Market building has been a place of collective memory for many Hongkongers across generations. The earliest prototype of the Central Market was Canton Bazaar, which was established in 1842 just south from the Market’s present location. After several rounds of renaming, remodelling, and relocating, the Central Market became what it is today – a four-storey building in the Bauhaus style, completed in 1938.
Home to 255 stalls in the 1940s, the Central Market had all sorts of fresh food on sale: common poultry, seafood, pork, beef… There was even horse meat, a relatively affordable source of protein back in wartime Hong Kong. As the Central Market was the only meat market in Hong Kong Island, it was always filled with people; Hong Kong’s then-Governor David Trench even recognised it to be the largest meat market in the whole of Southeast Asia.
Things to do in the new Central Market
Designed with an open floor plan, the Central Market now provides 100 leasable units for retail and F&B, 1,000 square metres of green open space, and open areas for exhibitions, performances, and activities – hence its slogan “playground for all”. On top of these (literally), the second floor of the Market is open to SMEs, local brands, and start-ups. So whether you’d like to dine, shop, work, learn, or be entertained, the revitalised Central Market has you covered.
1. Look out for buskers and public performances – or busk yourself!
Say goodbye to old, stuffy markets! The new Central Market has a large atrium equipped with projection and sound systems, as well as about 100 seats, making the piazza the perfect space for street performances. In addition, a semi-open area in front of the Grand Staircase has been repurposed for community performances. It includes a motion sensor system and an LED projection wall, meant to create interactive experiences for visitors. Furthermore, the Legacy Hall on the first floor has a 2,500-square-feet multi-functional space, making it ideal for hosting forums and cultural events.
Want to watch talented musicians perform? The Staging Ground @ Central event is not to be missed. You can even sign up as a busker yourself!
2. Visit the famous Hong Kong film locations
While the entrance to Central Market used to be the hotspot for outdoor cinema back in the start of 1900s, the Market itself has become a popular film location over the years. When the Central Market closed down in 2003, the attached Central Escalator Link Alley Shopping Arcade (built in 2004) was also discontinued. But, the Market has remained as one of the connection points for the Central–Mid-Levels escalator. Have you spotted this junction appearing in the classic Hong Kong movie Chungking Express, as well as in The Dark Knight from the Batman trilogy?
Check out our list of film locations across Hong Kong.
3. Eat, drink, and be merry
Though the Central Market is still in its soft opening phase, some stalls and restaurants are already in full operation. If you’re a fan of street food (especially egg waffles), you’ll be glad to know that the crowd favourite Mammy Pancake has a branch on the second floor of the Market. Also, you can try the Cantonese soups at Souper Authentic, or head to On Lee Dai Pai Dong for some Hong Kong-style comfort food – beef noodle soup, anyone?
And it’s not just about local foods either. Although cafes and bars aren’t the first places that spring to mind when it comes to Hong Kong markets, the Central Market is giving you a slice of the modern, globalised culinary experience. From wine bars and shops like Winelog and Perfume Tree Gins, to bakeries such as 1966, you’ll be able to experience the best of both worlds.
4. Take part in workshops and audio tours
With brand new event spaces across the Market, it’s time for you to join in on the fun! If you’re looking to get crafty with your kids, feel free to sign up for the DIY and drawing workshops. There are also events for those who want to mingle and socialise. If you prefer to enjoy the amazing building alone and learn more about its history, architecture, and conservation work, you can find audio tours on its official website.
Take a look at the latest events at the Central Market by visiting its event calendar.
5. You’re now in the Heritage Triangle!
Similar to PMQ and Tai Kwun, art and the community are important elements in the revitalised Central Market. Spending the day out in Central? Make sure to check out all three historic sites for the ultimate art and culture fix.
Central Market, 93 Queen’s Road Central and 80 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, p. 3618 8668, 中環皇后大道中93號及德輔道中80號中環街市