Located on the island of Cheung Chau (around 10km from Hong Kong), the Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a curious and crazy event that is held between the fifth to ninth days of the fourth lunar month in the Chinese calendar.
What began as a Taoist alter offering and performance during an 18th Century plague has now become a world-renowned festival with thousands flocking from far and wide to witness the traditions and festivities. It has even been listed as one of Time.com’s ‘Top 10 Quirky Local Festivals’.
For the people of Cheung Chau, the festivities begin long before the official celebrations, with families and communities creating papier-mâché models of deities, designing costumes for the parade and, of course, baking buns! The buns are actually vegan, being made of flour, water and sugar and are filled with traditional Chinese flavours such as lotus, sesame and red bean paste.
‘One such baking company, Kwok Kam Kee, bakes around 60,000 buns for the festival each year!’
The event features a long parade known as the Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade which includes small children re-enacting the historic ceremony of the 18th Century plague while seemingly balancing on floats as they pass through the town. Along with plenty of traditional drumming, lion dances and gong sounds, is the main event of the festival: The Bun Scrambling Competition.
During The Bun Scrambling Competition competitors have three minutes to clamber up a bamboo tower covered with plastic buns as they aim to stuff as many of these fake baked goods into a bag. The buns located at the top of the tower are worth more points so there is often an energetic chase to the pinnacle! Who will be crowned this year’s King and Queen of the Buns?!
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is celebrated on Cheung Chau, a small island 10km to the south west of Hong Kong. The whole island is taken over with festival spirit during the event so wherever you wander there will be something to see and do!
Reach Cheung Chau by taking the ferry from Central Pier 5. The ferries take between 35 minutes and one hour depending whether you catch a fast service. Be aware that the festival is extremely popular and you should therefore allow plenty of time to reach the festival if staying in Hong Kong.
Cheung Chau itself boasts a range of hotels and Airbnb’s. Make sure you book well in advance of the festival as many original inhabitants of Cheung Chau also return to the island during this period each year so the main town and the island on the whole becomes very busy.
Alternatively, you can stay on Lantau Island, Lamma Island or within the main city of Hong Kong and get to Cheung Chau daily via ferry.
Head to the map below for all the local hotel and Airbnb accommodation.
The festivities of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival run over five days with the main celebrations happening on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. You can therefore choose whether you want to visit the island daily to enjoy the local traditions and celebrations of just for the world-famous Bun Scrambling Competition.
When not witnessing local celebrations and munching down endless Lucky Buns you can enjoy one of the many activities on offer in Hong Kong. Climb Victoria Peak, explore Lantau Island with its Tian Tan Buddha or eat Michelin-star dim sum at Tim Ho Wan.
The next Cheung Chau Bun Festival will run from the 9-13th May 2019.
Rad Season is providing you with hotels and Airbnbs at the lowest prices available online. Book your stay for Cheung Chau Bun Festival 2019 using the map below!
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