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Hong Kong Cultural Celebrations

Come to Hong Kong during spring and you will encounter four festivals, with hundreds of performers, thousands of years of traditions, hundreds of thousands of incense sticks and who knows how many buns!

Whether you’re following the sounds of rousing gongs and drums, watching locals commemorating the birthdays of Tin Hau, Buddha and Tam Kung, or cheering on competitors scrambling up a tower of buns at the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, this is a great time to soak up the energy, tradition and passion that comprise the very soul of Hong Kong.

 Info
Date:
11-26 May 2015
 

Tin Hau’s Birthday falls on the 23rd day of the third lunar month.

Hong Kong’s maritime heritage ensures that Tin Hau, Goddess of the Sea and patron saint of fishermen, has a strong and loyal following here. On her birthday, locals flock to the more than 70 temples dedicated to her in Hong Kong to pray for safety, security, fine weather and full fishing nets during the coming year. So enduring is the reverence for Tin Hau in Hong Kong that this festival is even celebrated by many young people who are more likely to catch a fish in a seafood restaurant than on a trawler.

In Shap Pat Heung in Yuen Long, there is a colourful parade of fa pau (floral wreaths), lion dances and a fa pau raffle. There are also celebrations in Joss House Bay, where the oldest Tin Hau Temple in Hong Kong is located.

 Info
Date:
11 May 2015
 
Festivities at Shap Pat Heung
Celebrations in Joss House Bay
Chinese Opera and Bamboo Theatre
Other Celebrations
Guided Tours

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival falls on the fifth to the ninth days of the fourth lunar month.

Every year, the people of Cheung Chau get busy making papier-mâché effigies of deities, preparing costumes, baking buns and building a bamboo tower. They’re preparing for the thousands of people that will soon descend upon their tiny island for what Time.com deemed one of the world's 'Top 10 Quirky Local Festivals'.

It all started with a plague that devastated Cheung Chau in the late Qing dynasty (1644–1911). The islanders built an altar in front of the Pak Tai Temple and petitioned the god Pak Tai to drive off the evil spirits besieging the island, while parading statues of deities through the narrow lanes of their village. The plague ended after the performance of these Taoist rituals and 100 years later the rituals are still performed in a festival that is listed as an intangible part of China’s cultural heritage.

For the locals, this is the continuation of their customs. The islanders have a strong sense of community and those who have left to work elsewhere will return for this celebration. For the thousands who crowd the ferry boats to the erstwhile pirate haven, this is the spectacular Cheung Chau Bun Festival. The weeklong event includes Taoist ceremonies and music, a parade, lion dances, drum beating and an exciting Bun Scrambling Competition involving a tower of buns.

 Info
Date:
22-26 May 2015
 
The  Piu Sik  (Floating Colours) Parade
The Bun Scrambling Competition
Guided Tours

 

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Event Details

Date Time Activities Location
17 May Noon to 6pm • Climbing Carnival Soccer pitch at Pak Tai Temple Playground
22-25 May 7:30-11pm • Chinese opera performances Pak Tai Temple Plaza
24 May 2:30-3:15pm • Lion and unicorn dances Pak Tai Temple Plaza
25 May 10:30am
2-4pm
11:30pm to 12:30am
• Unicorn dance and kung fu performance
• Piu Sik Parade (Download map here)
• Bun Scrambling Competition*
Pak Tai Temple Plaza
Soccer pitch at Pak Tai Temple Playground
26 May 9am
2pm
• Distribution of buns
• Ceremony to send the deities back to their temples
Pak Tai Temple Plaza

* Complimentary admission tickets will be distributed at Pak She First Lane next to Pak Tai Temple from 10pm, while stocks last.

 How to get there
  • Take the ferry from Central Pier 5

Remarks: An additional ferry trip from Cheung Chau to Central will be available after the Bun Scrambling Competition at midnight on 25 May. Please visit First Ferry’s website for updates on the event day. For enquiries, call First Ferry Customer Service Hotline at 2131 8181 during office hours.

As the Bun Festival is very popular, visitors are advised to arrive early at the Central Pier for the ferry to Cheung Chau. Crowd management will be handled by the police.

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Buddha’s Birthday falls on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month.

The Birthday of the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism), also called the Buddha Bathing Festival, is one of the most spiritual and unique festivals celebrated in Hong Kong.

According to legend, nine dragons sprayed water to bathe the baby Buddha at birth. To commemorate this, at Buddhist temples across the city, devotees gather to pay their respects to this revered deity by bathing statues of him in bowls of water. The ritual is believed to aid in the purification of one’s soul. One of the grandest ceremonies is held at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, home of the Big Buddha.

Before and after the Birthday of Buddha, celebrants also eat special green cookies – and if these sound unappetising, that’s because they are. These cookies are deliberately quite bitter, as eating them represents passing through hardship to enjoy better things.

 Info
Date:
25 May 2015
 
Po Lin Monastery’s Buddha Bathing Ceremony
Celebration of the Lord Buddha’s Birthday in the 2559th Year of the Buddhist Calendar (2015)
‘Auspicious Beginnings of Peace and Harmony’ - Buddha’s Birthday Carnival 2015
Guided Tours

Tam Kung’s Birthday falls on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month.

Like Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, Tam Kung is revered amongst fishermen and coastal communities; however, the worship of this deity is unique to Hong Kong. Born in the Huizhou prefecture in Guangdong province during the Yuan dynasty (1206-1368), Tam Kung was capable of forecasting the weather and healing the ill when he was a child. His statue is usually portrayed as an 80-year-old man with the face of a 12-year-old child because he is believed to have achieved wisdom at a young age and learned the secret of remaining forever young.

Take a Virtual Visit

 Info
Date:
25 May 2015
 
Festivities at Shau Kei Wan