Bun Festival 2007 - rainy start but hot main day

Submitted by Martin on Sun, 20/05/2007 - 18:06

Extremely wet yesterday afternoon to this morning; amber rainstorm. Bad for preparations for the Bun Festival, which is set to start tomorrow.

Bun Festival site rain

Only few buns were placed on the towers yesterday - surely had been plans to put more on, but weather too atrocious. Before 8am this morning, I walked by the festival site - looked real sad. The big effigies of gods were still in the main "theatre", which offers better protection from rain than the tall shelter they will be in for most of the festival.

buns in rain

Several of the buns had fallen, others were turning to mush in the rain, a few falling to the ground as I watched.

Happily, the heavy rain eased by lunchtime, and even though there's rain forecast - indeed, looks set to be a wet week - maybe should be showery, rather than non-stop deluges. So, hopefully ok for the actual festival - indeed, cloud with occasional showers should mean that won't be baking hot as with some Bun Festivals I've known.

Cheung Chau history and culture

rainy bun festival
A rainy morning on the first day of the Bun Festival (even though festival proper not to start until evening).

buns up

Buns were put onto the main towers - again; those I'd seen yesterday having been all removed (some HK$20,000 lost in buns made mush by rain, I'm told).
rainy bun festival day one

At the main theatre, the grand effigies of gods remained in shelter; people sitting about, glum, waiting for break in the rain.

bun festival priests

By evening, the rain had at last eased (again), there were more buns in the main tower, the three gods were in their place - and the Bun Festival got underway, including with Taoist priests performing weird and wonderful ceremony.

bun festival rain morning
More downpours this morning. I took this around 8am; the bright lights show how gloomy it was because of the thick thick clouds overhead, dumping rain on us.
buns up in rain
Work was still underway on putting buns up onto the towers - became a rather ragged display.

bun festival musicians
But in the afternoon, the rain had eased and mostly halted - again - and the Bun Festival was once more underway. Musicians with the priests (above) were making a din, competing with the nearby opera: so a real rumpus at the festival site, making it seem far from a "great peace" festival!
bun festival opera
The opera made for welcome colour on a dreary, grey day.

bun festival mcdonald's
Also, the island's restaurants were serving vegetarian food - even McDonald's serving up veggie burgers (not too great I thought, trying one).


Better weather today; but as yet, not too many visitors. Seems about every other shop along the waterfront and streets has Bun Festival souvenirs for sale. I was told by one shop owner that a newspaper had reported a store selling souvenirs made good profit last year - so now, seems about everyone has jumped on the bandwagon!

bun selling

Real buns were for sale, too.

lion photo

Photographers were about, taking Bun Festival related photos (assume the ace photographer position - a slight crouch!)

bun climbing tower

Meanwhile , the climbing tower and its plastic buns looked rather lonely in the football pitch.

The rain has halted, and the sun has come out, sending temperatures soaring - with steamy humidity too.

praya crowd

At lunchtime, the Praya was crowded...


Some streets were crowded.

food selling

Accessible restaurants were doing a roaring trade - here selling typical vegetarian food.

festival sitejoss burninggods of cheung chau

At the festival site, giant incense sticks burned outside a temporary shrine, where people burned joss sticks before the effigies of gods who had joined the festival (from temples around Cheung Chau).


News crews filed reports.

bun towers 2007
And the bun towers still looked rather sad, after their battering by the torrential rains; sheets with imprints like buns partly covered their tattered appearance. But at least on the big day, the weather was fine.

banyan vantage

People were crowded together at various vantages for watching the action - especially the parade, which would begin soon. Me, I headed up the hill, for home, air-conditioning, and some work.

after parade

Out after the parade; the festival site had few people milling about, plus fair amount of litter.

bun fest tung wan

I walked along Tung Wan beach - busy; a good place to head after a hot time watching the parade I figured.

ferry wait
waiting for ferry

- the beach was surely a far better place than the ferry queues aftr the parade! Even as I later walked by at around 7.15, there were still long queues; walking along themextenced to Long Island Restaurant - and the barriers and police tape suggested the queues had even reached along to the main row of seafood restaurants.

bun festival seafood
Seafood restaurants were full to bursting - gone are the days when Cheung Chau stayed vegetarian till after the buns are removed from the towers; nowadays, seafood n meat can be sold the last evening.

ghost alley

Nearby, along a strip of waterfront in front of Pak Tei Temple, Cheung Chau's wandering ghosts had a last chance to feed before heading to the underworld.
dai sze wong

As Dai Sze Wong - good of the underworld - looked on, people set out food, drink and money (Bank of Hell notes).

ghost lantern

Ghost lanterns lit the way to the food, drink and money.

incense waving

Elderly women waved bundles of burning incense to the spirits/gods.

ghost alley bun festival

Quietly, this strip of land was  prepared for a major event in the Bun Festival. Here' s the view from the small shelter where the priests were to sit by around 11, to chant, and watch the ghosts, make sure they're full and, at 11.30, to complete the island exorcism by saying it's time - time for Dai Sze Wong and his ministers to be burnt, returning to the underworld and taking Cheung Chau's wandering ghosts away with them for another year.

rain opera
The rains returned soon after the main day - on Sunday 28 May, the Bun Festival opera continued, but looked a sorry sight with few people watching during very rainy afternoon.last night at the opera

Although the evening was drier, the crowd remained tiny. Can't have been much fun for the opera troupe - and I bet they were glad to leave the Bun Festival 2007!

bun; festival aftermathafter bun festival
bun festival aftermath

After all the fun of the festival, here's the festival site a week after the last main day. Still quite a bit to clean up; but basketball would resume within a few days.

Hi All,

We plan to see the Bun Festival on 21 May 2010. Grateful if you may advise:

a) Activity schedule on 21 May 2010 (we have seen old schedule of past years were Lion dance at around 11AM, Fly-Color 1400 to 1600 (4PM), Bun Climb at 23:59)

b) There will be ferry to Central AFTER the end of mid-night bun climb, is that right?

c) What is the expected end time for the mid-night bun climb?

Many thanks for your help on the matter


Well, "schedule" should be much the same as previous years.

But really, there's far more going on than the old schedule suggests. In morning, will be plenty of activity in front of Pak Tei Temple, including Taoist priests doing weird stuff, incense lit, maybe Cantonese opera.
Parade usually from around 2pm (seems this is "fly-color"?) Parade route is PACKED, so may have to wait in advance at what seems a decent vantage, with plenty to drink if it's hot.

Even earlier, Taoist priests will tour village, to various places where ghosts apparently drawn to small offerings. They move fast, though!

Bun Climb's a bit crap as far as islanders concerned; tho govt likes to make a fuss about it.

Before this, around 11.30pm, should be grand finale of the exorcism - likely on waterfront, near the temple. From dusk onwards, should be people adding food, tea etc to small area in front of a huge god that will be moved to waterfront from festival site, ready to take ghosts back to the underworld.

I believe there will be ferries after the Bun Climb thing.



I plan to take my 3 year old child to Cheung Chau on May 22. It seems like most of the festivity will take place the day before. Are there other organized events on May 22? If not, what are some of the must do things in Cheung Chau after the Bun Festival? Thanks very much in advance for your advice.

Sorry to be late seeing this. There should have been a minor parade at 2pm, but not much else happening.

Plenty elsewhere on Cheung Chau, as I hope you could find by looking around this website: beaches, walking streets in the village, coastal paths, some chilled-out restaurants alongside the harbour...

Here's a video I shot during main day of this year's Bun Festival: