Downtime: how to let your hair down in 2017

It’s been a tough 2016. After a year of job cuts, political earthquakes and market uncertainty, we offer fun to look forward to in the year ahead


The eyes of the art world turn to Hong Kong from March 23 to 25 for the city’s annual Art Basel festival. 

The UBS-backed eastern spin-off of the world’s most famous art fair is now in its fifth edition, and has spawned a host of spin-off and complimentary events led by local artists, most notably Art Central, which takes in the open air at Central harbourfront the same week.

Not to be outdone, rival city state Singapore kicks off the year with its annual Arts Week, running from January 11 to 22.

Artists from around the world will flock to Tokyo for the May 26-27 Tokyo International Art Fair, while Seoul hosts the Korea International Art Fair in October.


A favourite for most in the financial world is the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, which these days runs from April 7-9, rather than its traditional end-of-March date. Want tickets? Better start buttering up the right contacts or colleagues – the online ballot closes on February 3, but the odds of winning are tiny. As always, FinanceAsia will be on hand to judge the weekend’s second most coveted prize – the ‘Who Had the Best Box at the Sevens?’ award.

Formula One seems to be in reverse gear, with the long-term future of both the Singapore (September 17) and Malaysian (October 1) Grand Prix in severe doubt. Races also take place in Suzuka (April 9), Japan (October 8) and of course the season kicks off in Melbourne. (March 26). Formula E is expected to return to Hong Kong, but for constant thrills you’ll struggle to match the Macau Grand Prix (November 16-19).


Tickets went on sale for the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival on December 10, so you might have to be quick to snap up a seat at some of the 149 performances, from February 15 to March 19. Fortunately, some of the best shows will be out on the streets of the city, including new-media artist Jen Lewin’s Super Pool, dubbed a “gigantic computerised installation fusing light, sound, technology and human interaction”.

In August and September, it’s Singapore’s turn for the cultural spotlight with the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

Movie lovers need to look north, with Taipei (usually in summer) and Busan, South Korea, and Tokyo (both in October and November) hosting the region’s major film festivals.

For something a little more chilled out, try the Bangkok International Jazz Festival in March.

And if all of that sounds too much like hard work, rest assured that there’s a five-star resort with your name on it within a few hours’ flight. None will be more outrageously, extravagantly luxurious than THE 13 in Macau, where rooms stretch up to 30,000 square feet with decor that makes Trump Tower look refined and guests will be whisked around town in a fleet of 30 bespoke Rolls Royce Phantom cars. The price when it opens early in 2017? They’re not saying yet. Better hope for a healthy bonus ... 

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