The Cheung Chau Bun Festival, also called Tai Ping Ching Chiu, is a unique event that takes place from the fifth to the ninth days of the fourth lunar month every year, which is usually in April or May. Attracted by the “Bun Mountain” and the Piu Sik Parade (Floating Colours) , I have been to Cheung Chau (long island) during that period.
According to the legend, the origin of the festival was due to an outbreak of a plague in the late Qing dynasty (1644–1911) on the island. The residents of Cheung Chau invited some eminent monks to set up an altar in front of the Pak Tai Temple and prayed to Pak Tai. Also, they paraded with the statues of deities throughout their villages. Finally, the epidemic was eliminated.
This custom has never stopped since then and has become the largest traditional event on the island. The unique heritage attracts tens of thousands of Hong Kong’s urban residents and foreign visitors. In 2011, it was listed as a world intangible cultural heritage. Moreover, it was chosen by the online TIME Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Quirky Festival”!
Bun Festival– Piu Sik Parade (Floating Colours)
The “plague eliminating” parade has evolved into the one with gongs and lion dancers, and most importantly, with children dressed as deities or ancient and modern figures, balancing on poles and shuttling on streets, like “floating above the crowds” at first glance!
Date: 3 May 2017
Time: Around 2-4pm (lion dances usually starts in the morning)
Hong Kong Bun Festival – Bun Scrambling Competition
It is the climax of the bun festival. 12 players will climb up a “bun mountain” of about 14 meters high and about 3 meters in diameter, which made of steel, bamboo and approximately 9,000 buns!
In the past, the locals would build 3 “bun towers” in front of the Pak Tai Temple for worship. As they believed that these buns could bring safe and healthy to them, so they would scramble as much buns as possible. This custom has evolved into the current “Bun Scrambling “contest.
Date: 3 – 4 May, 2017
Opening Ceremony: 11:30 pm, 3 May, 2017
Starting Time: 12:00 midnight, 4 May, 2017
Venue: Soccer Pitch of Pak Tai Temple Playground
Cheung Chau Food
One of the special traditions is that the entire island goes vegetarian for 3 days during the festival. Even the local McDonald’s only sells veggie burgers. Most famous seafood restaurants there adhere to this tradition. You can buy some lucky buns at bakeries on the island if you like.
Date: 30 April to 4 May 2017
Location: Cheung Chau – a “dumbbells-like” outlying island to the south-west of Hong Kong Island
How to get there? Take the ferry from Central Pier 5
Please feel free to share your experience of Cheung Chau Bun Festival here!
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