CHEUNG CHAU BUN FESTIVAL 28th April to 18th May 2013 (Parade and Bun Scrambling Competition 17th May 2013)
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is one of Hong Kong’s major cultural events and, in 2013, takes place between 28th April and 18th May with the main events taking place on 17th May. The festival, also known as the Jiao Festival has, since June 2011, been one of four cultural events in Hong Kong which have been placed on the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Culture national list of intangible cultural heritage. The festival is held in honour of Pak Tai, the Daoist deity and god of the north and is intended to purify the community and pacify the spirits of islanders who died in the plague of 1894. The plague was finally wiped out after Pak Tai’s image had been paraded through the streets of the island.
The 2013 Bun Festival is jointly organised by the Hong Kong Cheung Chau Bun Festival Committee and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department with the support of the Cheung Chau Wai Chiu County Association Limited, the Cheung Chau Rural Committee, the Islands District Office and the Hong Kong Mountaineering Union, and is sponsored by Lukfook Jewellery, Watsons Water and the Islands District Council.
"Floating" children are a highlight of the spectacular Piu Sik Parade
Until 1964 the festival was celebrated at Tung Wan (East Bay) Beach but since 1965 the focal point has been the Pak Tai Temple, one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples, built in 1783. The event has become a major attraction for thousands of visitors from Hong Kong and overseas and at the 2012 carnival, some 70,000 visitors, 10,000 more than in 2011, joined the island’s 30,000 population during the festival. A makeshift theatre is erected opposite the temple for Chinese opera performances and other events throughout the festival include lion and dragon dances, martial arts performances and variety shows. Tradition dictates that for three days of the festival only vegetarian food is eaten with meat and seafood only becoming available after all the buns have been removed from the tower. However whilst visitors will find that restaurants take meat off the menu and McDonalds offers veggie burgers, the vegetarian tradition is nowadays mainly observed by indigenous islanders with many shops and food vendors cashing in on the tourist market.
The main events are the Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade and the Bun Scrambling Competition which traditionally take place on the 8th day of the fourth moon in the lunar calendar (17th May in 2013), which is also the Buddha’s Birthday and a public holiday in Hong Kong. The colourful street parade from 2pm to 4pm attracts huge crowds. Between 8am and 5pm on 17th May 2013, 32,000 people travelled to the island by ferry, an increase of 13% over 2012. The parade features “floating” children representing revered gods and current political figures, and who are carried shoulder high, appearing to be unsupported in mid-air. The 2013 parade broke with tradition by featuring a non-Chinese child in the parade in a concession to promotion of healthy eating when two British brothers, aged 6 and 5 depicted British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and a farmer. The parade is accompanied by over 20 decorated floats, musicians, flag-bearers, gongs. At the front of the procession red sedan chairs carry deities from all the temples on Cheung Chau, led by Pak Tai.
Colourful characters in a previous year's parade passing along the harbourside San Hing Praya Street
Map of the parade route;
The Bun Scrambling Competition is the climax of the Cheung Chau Bun Carnival
1978 the Bun Scrambling Competition had been a “free for all” but
during that year’s competition one of the three bamboo towers collapsed
resulting in injuries to over 100 people and the competition was
suspended for 27 years and the buns handed out instead. In 2005 the
competition was reintroduced but under strict safety conditions. The
three bamboo towers have been replaced by a single steel tower and the
number of climbers is limited to twelve who undergo training from Hong
Kong Mountaineering Union.
On the stroke of midnight the twelve participants race up the 14-metre tall, 3-metre diameter conical bun tower to grab as many buns as they can collect within the three minute time limit. The bun tower is divided into three zones from top to bottom and buns each carry a score of nine, three and one respectively. Words in green, yellow and red are printed on the bottom of the buns for identification. The scores for male and female contenders are ranked separately. The contestants who obtain the highest total score in three minutes are the champions.
All contestants have to follow the rules of the competition. They are not allowed to carry any hard objects or any objects that can be used as offensive weapons. They must scramble up vertically and are forbidden to climb sideways or climb with the aid of others and are not allowed to pull other participants' clothing or safety gear or step on any parts of other participants' bodies.The real buns on the tower have been replaced by 9,000 plastic replica “buns” for reasons of hygiene. Redemption coupons are issued to spectators and these can be used to claim one of the replica buns as a souvenir with the remaining “buns” being cleaned and saved to be re-used the following year. The following day about 20,000 real white buns with lotus, red bean or sesame fillings, are made by local bakeries, each stamped in red with the Chinese character for peace, are handed out. In a further concession to public health precautions, at the 2011 carnival, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department banned the practice of the local bakeries stamping the buns outside their premises and lack of space inside the bakeries resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of buns baked. However, for the 2012 carnival the Department issued temporary licences to bakeries allowing tables to be set up outside their premises, where buns could be stamped with a message of peace.
THE 2013 BUN SCRAMBLING COMPETITION -17th MAY 2013
The final of the 2013 Bun Scrambling Competition was be contested by 12 competitors, comprising 9 men and 3 women.
Admission to the Bun Scrambling Competition on 17th May was by ticket only. The venue, the soccer pitch of Pak Tai Temple Playground was divided into five zones with one zone designated for invited guests and four zones for public viewing. The venue has a capacity of 1,650, excluding invited guests, and free tickets (one per person) were distributed on a "first-come, first served" from 10pm from Pak She First Lane, next to Cheung Chau Fire Station, and along Ping Chong Road, close to the Pak Tai Soccer Pitch where the competition takes place. Spectators who have got their tickets were requested to continue queuing to wait for instructions from the Police and staff of the organisers. Admission started from 10-30pm with spectators entering Zone 1 to Zone 4 in sequence. The opening ceremony of the Bun Scrambling Competition was at 11-30pm and the competition finished at 12-25am on May 18th.
The men's winner was Kwok Ka-ming, for the fifth time, whilst the women's winner was Wong Ka-yan, who also won in 2010.
Championship: Mr Kwok Ka-ming, 1045 marks
First runner-up: Mr Cheung Man-cheung, 1024 marks
Second runner-up: Mr Chung Yuk-chuen, 992 marks
Championship: Miss Wong Ka-yan, 720 marks
Championship: Spirit Sports Association - 2 minutes and 11 seconds
First runner-up: Cheung Chau Sai Wan Ma Sing Temple Management Association - 2 minutes and 19 seconds
Second runner-up: Shenzhen Mountaineering and Outdoor Sports Association - 2 minutes and 20 seconds
Mr Kwok Ka-ming (Number 4) became the male champion while Miss Wong Ka-yan topped the women's team
OPEN CLIMBING CARNIVAL - SUNDAY 12th MAY 2013
Sunday 12th May 2013, members of the public were able to experience
climbing of the bun tower frame and participate in various other
activities at the Climbing Carnival of the 2013 Bun Carnival. The event
ran from noon to 6pm on the soccer pitch at Pak Tai Temple Playground,
Cheung Chau. Simply by making on-site applications for the Climbing
Play-in, participants were able to experience local tradition and climb
the 14-metre-tall bun tower frame set up for the Bun Scrambling
Eight teams from local tertiary institutions, government departments, public utilities and commercial and industrial organisations tried their best to compete in the invitation relays. The championship was won by the team from Sport Climbing Club, the Hong Kong University Students' Union.
Members of the public were able to make wishes on the "wishing bun tower" and also join various festive activities including game stalls (featuring the themes of the national list of intangible cultural heritage), handicraft, variety show, bun tower climbing demonstrations, wishing bun tower, display of winners’ work of the Student Colouring and Drawing Competitions, etc. In addition, festival-goers could learn more about the technical and safety aspects of bun tower climbing from demonstrations by the Hong Kong Mountaineering Union on bun tower climbing and relevant safety measures.
Athletes competing for championship in the invitation relays at the Open Climbing Carnival, held on 12th May 2013, the Sunday before the 2013 Cheung Chau Bun Carnival
2013 CHEUNG CHAU BUN CARNIVAL WEBSITE;
Cheung Chau is served by the First Ferry service from Central Pier 5 on Hong Kong Island and also by the First Ferry Inter-Island ferry service which connects Cheung Chau with Chi Ma Wan and Mui Wo on Lantau Island and Peng Chau.
TIMETABLES AND FARES;
CENTRAL TO CHEUNG CHAU
Visitors intending to take the “Fast Ferry” service should arrive at the pier well before departure time. Passengers are counted on board and standing is not allowed. The “Fast Ferry” may leave before scheduled departure time if full. Demand is likely to be high on 17th May.
First Ferry Triple-Deck Ordinary Ferry from Central arriving at Cheung Chau Harbour
SPECIAL TRANSPORT ARRANGEMENTS FOR VISITORS RETURNING FROM CHEUNG CHAU AFTER THE BUN SCRAMBLING COMPETITION;
First Ferry will operate an additional “Ordinary Ferry” service from Cheung Chau to Central at 1-15am on 18th May.
From 1-10am to 2-30am on 18th May, a special cross-harbour bus service 104R will operate from Central Pier 5 to Mongkok.
From midnight to 2-30am on 18th May, night bus services N8X (to Siu Sai Wan), N90 (to South Horizons), N182 (to Sha Tin) and N619 (to Shun Lee, Kwun Tong), which all originate from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, will be diverted to call at Central Pier 5.
For more information on Outlying Island Ferry Services see FERRIES-OUTLYING ISLANDS
ACCOMMODATION ON CHEUNG CHAU
Accommodation on Cheung Chau during the Bun Festival is likely to be difficult to find unless booked well in advance. Cheung Chau has one hotel, the 66-room three-star WARWICK HOTEL on Tung Wan Beach;
Warwick Hotel overlooks Tung Wan (East Bay)
B&B CHEUNG CHAU is an excellent and popular modern guest house It has 14 rooms and 4 suites located on Tung Wan Road just two minutes walk from the ferry pier and one minute from Tung Wan Beach and a 4 rooms and one family room at Pak She Street near Pak Tai Temple;
Since opening in 2006 B&B Cheung Chau has rapidly become a popular choice for visitors looking for good quality budget accommodation on the island
SEAVIEW HOLIDAY FLATS have 10 flats in various locations. This is mainly basic budget accommodation although one de-luxe flat is available;
PRAYA STREET ACCOMMODATION BOOTHS. Located outside the ferry pier entrance are several kiosks which are usually manned from mid-morning and often until about midnight. These are operated by various owners including Seaview Holiday Flats (see above) offering flats ands room with budget accommodation. Visitors can view photographs of the accommodation in display albums at the stands.
Gray Line Tours of Hong Kong Limited will operate a Bun Festival Tour on 17th May 2013 which will include private boat to Cheung Chau, vegetarian meal and reserved seats for the official grandstand for the afternoon parade. Details to be announced;