Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Bun Towers, Lion Dances, Lively Parades, and the Bun Scrambling Contest
...a colorful and unique Hong Kong Festival
May 11 - 15, 2016

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is one of the liveliest and certainly one-of-a-kind of Hong Kong Festivals, full of folklore and tradition and set in picturesque Cheung Chau Island, just a short ferry ride from the city.

The trademark of the festival are the huge bamboo mountains covered with handmade buns which are set up near the Pak Tai Temple where the majority of the celebrations take place. Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Bun Towers

According to the legends, (one of them anyway) the festival originated after the island was plagued by an epidemic that killed thousands, and the disease was only conquered until the locals brought in the god Pak Tai to Cheung Chau who drove the plague and evil spirits away.

Since then, this festival that is dedicated to Pak Tai has been celebrated every year, on the Buddha's Birthday, and the week-long festivities encompass a wide range of activities from the prayers and offerings to the god, to floats, parades, lion dances, and the culmination of the festival with a "bun scrambling" contest at midnight of the last day.

The Pak Tai Temple is the oldest in Cheung Chau and the religious centre of the island. This is the heart of the festival where most displays and activities will take place.

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a fantastic and very lively festival, and one YOU SHOULD NOT MISS if you happen to be in Hong Kong at the time.

You will see the colorful stands with all kinds of celebratory and worship items, the many offerings from incense to fruits and of course buns to the god.

Altars are set up and locals will come and pay their respects and pray for ongoing prosperity and health.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Vendors offering all sorts of colorful decorations... Cheung Chau Bun Festival Incense burning at temples
...Altars and incense are set up throughout...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Bun Vendor
...and the buns that are front and center at the celebration...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Bun tower altars and offerings...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
...Worshipping the gods...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Food Offerings offerings...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Parade

There is also a very colorful parade and you will see the typical lion dances, floats, marching bands, martial arts demonstrations and lots of drums and cymbels.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Parade Lions
Colorful lions are always part of the parade

You will also see lots of children participating with many of the local schools and martial arts organisations well-represented.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
...Little girl from a local school carries flags and banners for the parade ...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
...and this cute boy was a good trooper wearing that mask throughout the heat of it all...

One very unique aspect at the parade is the children held up high on stands, very made up and in colorful costumes that resemble mythological Chinese deities.

According to the legend, in the past many of the villagers also disguised themselves as the different gods and walked around the lanes to scare off the evil spirits.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Parade Floating Children
Children dressed as mythological deities...

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Parade Floating Children
...They are propped up and appear to be "floating"

The "Bun Grabbing" Contest

The festival culminates with a very unique and peculiar "Bun Grabbing Contest" at midnight on the last day of the celebrations.

A 60-foot- tower is set up for this purpose and a dozen participants climb up the bun-covered structure as they scramble to grab as many lucky buns as possible in three minutes.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
The 60-foot Bun Tower

This practice was suspended a while back because of security concerns, but was reinstituted back in 2005 after new safety measures were adopted.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival - Bun Grabbing Contest

There are individual competitions as well as team relay competitions. For the individual Bun Scrambling Competition there are twelve finalists that compete in the final "race" and scramble for buns to score points within a time limit. The harder to reach the higher the score.

There is also the "Full Pockets of Lucky Buns" awarded to the contestant that gets the most buns within their time allotment.

The relay competitions take place right after the individual contest where teams of three bun grabbers climb the tower to grab specific buns, the fastest team wins.

Where is the Festival and How to Get There?

Getting to Cheung Chau Island: 40 or 60 minutes with ferries from Central Pier #5 approx. every 30 minutes.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Parade

The fast ferry is an enclosed cabin, the standard or slow one is a much more scenic way to get there on the outside decks.

During the festival, ferries will be crowded so plan accordingly.

From the Ferry Pier in Cheung Chau, the Pak Tai Temple is only a 10 minute walk and you can't get lost, just follow the crowds.

Additional sailings from Cheung Chau to Central and bus routes from Central Pier 5 are normally added to accomodate visitors after the Bun Scrambling contest on the last night of the event.

For more info and detail ferry schedule check out the First Ferry site, they will post their holiday schedule and additional sailings as the festival approaches.

Here's a Map of the Cheung Chau Ferry Pier, Parade Route and site of the Bun Scrambling Competition.

When is the Cheung Chau Bun Festival 2016?

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a week-long affair celebrated on and around Buddha's Birthday, on the 8th day of the 4th Moon on the Lunar Calendar, around end of April or May in the Western calendar.

The 2016 Cheung Chau Bun Festival is from May 11 to 15, 2016, watch for colorful events during the week leading up to the major celebrations:

  • Parade: 2:00 - 4:00 pm. Unicorn dances and Kung Fu demos normally starting at 10:30 am
  • Bun Scrambling Contest: 11:30 p.m. at the Soccer Pitch of Pak Tai Temple Playground

In addition, there is a preliminary Bun Carnival on the weekend preceding the Festival. A "practice" Bun Tower is set up for climbing demonstrations as well as to give you a chance to try it out. There are the usual festival stalls, music, games and shows, so a good preview for the main event.

Here's more info on the many events held during the week: HKTB Cultural Celebrations

HKD 299 US$38 Cheung Chau Bun Festival Tour
May 14, 2016 Sold Out

Cheung Chau Bun Festival Tour

Meets TST Public Pier
Cruise shuttle to Stanley for lunch and then to Cheung Chau for festival.
HK480 HKD299

More details at Groupon

HKD 540 US$70
Discover Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau Discovery Tour

Explore Cheung Chau Island
Sampans, temples, beaches, and a fabulous dim sum lunch, includes hotel pick up.
Monday thru Friday
HKD 540 US$70

More details at

Visiting Cheung Chau Island

Festival or not, Cheung Chau is worth a visit any time of the year. There is much to enjoy whether you have only a couple of hours or an entire day: A bustling harbour, lively street markets and shops, colorful temples, beaches, coastal hike trails and walks with stunning views...

Cheung Chau Island and Harbour

Here's more on Cheung Chau Island, things to do and how to get there.

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Check out this great images from the Festival:

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