The founder of Hong Kong’s Clockenflap has told HKFP that seeing the city’s premier music festival return for the first time since 2018 is a “wonderful feeling.”

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Clockenflap. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

For the first time in its 15-year history, weekend passes for the event next month in Central have sold out.

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Clockenflap. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Co-founder Justin Sweeting told HKFP on Tuesday that it was “such a wonderful feeling simply announcing that we were coming back, so excitement levels are maxing out as we inch closer to the festival finally happening again.”

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Clockenflap. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“For us, there was no point on bringing back Clockenflap’s return until we were sure we could put on the kind of event that we were sure would be fun. That time is now,” Sweeting added.

Clockenflap co-founder Justin Sweeting
Clockenflap co-founder Justin Sweeting. Photo: Magnetic Asia.

The rush for tickets has left many scrambling. As of Tuesday afternoon, sought-after three-day passes were on sale on Carousell marketplace for as much as HK$3,500.

Putting Hong Kong on the map

When the first Clockenflap was held in 2008 – in front of 1,500-odd revellers at Cyberport – Hong Kong was rarely on the map for international acts. A shortage of venues and government red tape meant that few bands and musicians made it a stop on their world tours. However, as the festival scaled up, the city soon became a magnet for larger acts.

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Clockenflap 2014. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

By 2011, Clockenflap had evolved into a multi-stage event at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, before moving across the water to the Central Harbourfront Event Space in 2016. Sigur Ros, The Chemical Brothers, De La Soul, New Order, The Prodigy, Massive Attack and M.I.A. are among the festival’s previous headliners, whilst it has also acted as platform for local offerings such as David Boring, Cehyrl, Chochukmo, G.E.M. and King Ly Chee.

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Travis at Clockenflap 2014. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The festival also bagged Lewis Capaldi, Bicep and Stormzy before they hit the bigtime back home.

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Clockenflap 2016. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Sweeting, who is the music director at events firm Magnetic Asia, confirmed that 2023 “would indeed be our first festival sell out… and a lovely milestone to have reached after all these years.”

Clockenflap festival hong kong
Clockenflap 2015. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The line-up for the next month’s three-day event includes hip-hop legends the Wu-Tang Clan, indie-rockers the Bombay Bicycle Club, UK rock icons the Arctic Monkeys and Swedish rock act The Cardigans.

The 12th edition of Clockenflap comes after it was was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, and was axed in 2019 due to the pro-democracy protests and unrest.

Homage to DJ Janette Slack

One figure absent from the 2023 edition is the much-missed international DJ and producer Janette Slack, who passed away last year. Events collective Eclectica will, however, be paying tribute to the trailblazing composer and boss of the Slack Trax label.

Janette Slack
Janette Slack. Photo: Facebook.

Eclectica collaborator Steve Loman told HKFP that Janette had “strong ties with Clockenflap as a performer, but also hosting their radio show – to have this tribute to her contribution to the Hong Kong scene was a no-brainier.”

“We have obviously talked to the Slack family about the night and you can expect the DJs to bring their A-game with classic beats for the crowd to dance with abandon celebrating the life of an incredible person and the return of this festival which brings hope and joy to the people of Hong Kong.”

Eclectica pays homage to Janette at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 4.

Dates: Fri, Mar 3, 2023 – Sun, Mar 5, 2023
Venue: Central Harbourfront.
Tickets: Only single-day tickets for Sunday are still available at HK$1,080 from

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Tom founded Hong Kong Free Press in 2015 and is the editor-in-chief. In addition to editing, he is responsible for managing the newsroom and company - including fundraising, recruitment and overseeing HKFP's web presence and ethical guidelines.

He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He previously led an NGO advocating for domestic worker rights, and has contributed to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and others.