Big events, big decisions await Hong Kong arts community in March

The arts community in Hong Kong is eyeing March with nervous trepidation as the month promises not only a dazzling array of events but also a decision that will shape the very nature of the city's creative community.

The Hong Kong government is this week set to decide on the plan for the massive West Kowloon Cultural District - the long-awaited harbor-side area to feature concert halls and art galleries which the city's leaders believe will make their home town Asia's "arts hub."

An estimated HK$22 billion (two billion euros) has been ear-marked for the project and competition for the design has come down to proposals from famous architects Normal Foster, Rocco Yim and Rem Koolhaas.

In the meantime, locals and visitors to town can busy themselves with purchasing tickets for some of the biggest events to grace not only Hong Kong's but Asia's arts and entertainment scene in 2011.

The 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival has already kicked off and this week sees the likes of Elvis Costello and Marianne Faithfull come to town, while the 11th Hong Kong International Literary Festival is due to start on March 8.

For art lovers there's the city's annual ArtWalk on March 16 while the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival kicks off on March 20.

"It's an exciting time to be around town," said film festival director Roger Garcia. "There is a real buzz about what is going on and we are proud to play our part."

Here's a sneak preview of the main attractions ...

39th Hong Kong Arts Festival
Until March 27
Various venues
There are 228 performing arts events, among them 13 new works, one world premiere and eight Asian premieres with the likes of Cecilia Bartoli and Elvis Costello being joined by the Japan Philharmonic.

11th Hong Kong International Literary Festival
March 8-18
Various venues
Much attention will be focused on the announcement of the Man Asian Literary Prize, while big-name authors such as Amitav Ghosh and Benjamin Zephaniah are sure to pack in the crowds, pens poised.

ArtWalk 2011
March 16
Various venues
A collection of 65 of the city's finest galleries open their doors - and their wine cellars - to the art loving hordes from 5pm to 11pm as they walk the streets of Hong Kong's art districts. And all proceeds go to charity.

35th Hong Kong International Film Festival
March 20-April 5
Various venues
More than 300 films from over 56 countries will be screened, including 19 world premieres and 35 Asian premieres. Kicking things off is the latest from Hong Kong's own Johnnie To - Don't Go Breaking My Heart.