Tens of thousands of people flocked to Cheung Chau on Friday morning to celebrate the Bun Festival, as one of Hong Kong’s most novel annual celebrations returned at full scale for the first time since 2019.
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival - which originated as a ritual for people to pray for safety from a plague - is back after the pandemic with all of its colourful celebrations.
Sun Ferry said 43,300 visitors had travelled from Central to Cheung Chau until 8pm — 78 percent more than last year, but 13 percent fewer than in 2019 when the Piu Sik parade was last held.
A kung fu show and kirin dance were the morning highlights, and crowds gathered at the pier for the best spots to watch children dressing up as deities and officials, while parading around the island standing on stilts on floats.
Wong Shing-chau from the Wei Hoi Luk Clansmen Association said he designed the floats to reflect the views of the public and share the joy with the people. He says the theme of one of the floats is recent electric bills and transport fee hikes, with a child dressing as Financial Secretary Paul Chan and throwing candies to the audience.
Seeing the queues of people buying lucky buns, the director of a decades-old bakery, Martin Kwok, said turnover has jumped: "Business over the past days has been boosted 40 percent, when compared to pre-pandemic levels.”
One customer said he woke up at 6:30 am to travel from Kwai Fong all the way to the island and bought thirty lucky buns, believing it would bring good fortune to the people he distributes them to.
Another customer surnamed Yiu said she was thrilled to see the crowds, yet a little upset because the landmark 40-foot-tall bamboo towers are replaced by three drawings, after a contractor told the organiser that it could not build the towers due to a lack of manpower.
“I am a little disappointed. The pictures look really different from the bun towers I saw when I was small. But I can't control it, I can't do anything about it. Of course it would be better if there are real bun towers next year,” she said.
The festivities culminate at midnight with the spectacular bun scrambling competition, in which competitors clamber up a tower to snatch as many buns as possible.
Last updated: 2023-05-26 HKT 21:39