The sleepy island of Cheung Chau is known for three things: pirates, windsurfing and the Bun Festival. But it’s the festival that keeps visitors coming back, year after year, to see what is surely Hong Kong’s most colourful, quirky, classically Chinese event. And now Hong Kong’s borders are fully reopened, visitors can come and enjoy it to the full.
The festival’s roots are centuries old, dating back to a ritual for local fishing communities to pray for safety from pirates, and held around the time of Buddha’s birthday. Since then, its religious origins have gradually been replaced and it has now evolved into a showcase of traditional Chinese culture.
It’s held this year for four days from May 17-20, with the climax on the third day. Throughout the festivities, the streets are thronged with people watching the lion and dragon dances, the drummers and the famous “floating parade,” where local children in traditional costumes are hoisted in the air on poles and paraded around Cheung Chau, in an enchanting re-creation of the age-old custom of parading religious statues.
The climax of the event comes at midnight on the last day when the famous bun scramble takes place in front of the Pak Tai temple. A group of specially chosen and fully trained athletes race each other up a 20-meter tower covered with thousands of buns, collecting as many as they can in three minutes.
Visitors can take time out from the carnival atmosphere and chill out with a stroll around the intriguing alleyways and a delicious dinner, choosing from the many open air food stalls and restaurants on the pier that overlooks the harbour.
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