Every May, throngs of visitors descend onto the sleepy island of Cheung Chau to experience the traditional Cheung Chau Bun Festival. Part exorcism, part Taoist ritual and part Mardi Gras, this spectacle features a colorful parade, lion dancing, effigy burning and the exciting Bun Snatching competition where people scramble to the top of a tall tower adorned with buns. Some of you might have braved the clogged alleys and long ferry lines to see this festival before but DID YOU KNOW…
About The Origin of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival
It is told that around 100 years ago there was a severe plague on this island. Villagers believed that the plague was caused by evil spirits. Therefore, they dressed themselves as different deities in disguise to drive away the demons. Nowadays only kids dress up as mythological Chinese gods in the parade during the day.
You Can Climb the Bun Mountain too
On 16 May, a week before the official festival, there will be a climbing demonstration, game stalls and shops at the football pitch. You can try climbing the Bun Mountain yourself under the instruction of experts and experience first-hand what the competitors feel when they are “up the hill”.
This is the First Year That There’s a Female Climbing Competition
For years, the bun mountain climbing competition has been a male-dominated game. Competitors would race to the top of a flimsy structure adorned with buns. The higher and faster you go, the more good fortune your family will have. Women were allowed to climb but the competition to scramble to the top was so fast and furious, it scared away a lot of female participants. However, this year, the boys and the girls will compete separately. Expect three hot female finalists fighting hard to be the first Female Bun Mountain Climber Champion this year.
They Serve Vegetarian Burgers at McDonald’s
During this three-day festival, locals fast or go on a vegetarian diet. Therefore, all restaurants on the island only serve vegetarian dishes, including the McDonalds on the Main Street. Try their special McVeggie Burger made with mushroom, carrots and lattice dressed in a salad sauce ($10).
You Can Get the Blessed Bun the Day After the Bun Mountain Climbing Competition
The Bun Festival organizers give away more than 20,000 buns to locals and tourists in the morning after the Bun Mountain Climbing Competition. It is believed that people who get a bun will enjoy good health in the coming year. Don’t worry that the buns might have been stepped by the bun mountain climbers. Those on the bun tower are not real for environmental reason.
Getting to Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau is most easily accessed from Hong Kong Island Central Ferry Terminal at Pier 5 . There are two departures every hour that will take either 30 minutes with the high speed ferry or 45 minutes with the regular one. Fares are very cheap in between $15 to 30 HK. Check the link below for ferry schedule.