You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Festivals > Minority Festival

Cheng Chau Festival

Festival of the Bun Hills

The Cheung Chau Festival starts on the 8th day of the Fourth Moon and continues for 4 days. The four-day celebration includes parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. But the most spectacular feature by far is the bun towers. It is one of the most unusual and dangerous of all Chinese festivals. Four days of religious rites, Chinese operas and the burning of paper clothing as gifts, is supposed to make ghosts and edgy spirits happy. 


The origins of the bun festival are unclear. According to one source, it commemorates the islanders killed by pirates, and whose spirits may still be wandering the island. As with the Hungry Ghost Festival, islanders provide food and burnt paper offerings to placate these wondering souls. It is probably also designed to pay tribute to Pak Tai. The festival falls just before the start of the fishing season, so honoring the god is one way to ensure fair weather and a good catch.



On three of the festival the entire island goes vegetarian; and you won't find any meat and eggs in restaurants. Butchers simply have a few days' rest. Most restaurants sell vegetarian dishes and some simply close. 

Parade of floats / Parade-in-the-air

In addition to traditional lion dances and dragon dances, children dressed as legendary and modern heroes are suspended above the crowd on the tips of swords and paper fans. They form the parade-in-the-air and are all secured within steel frames, though they appear to glide through the air. Parents consider it a great honour for their offspring to be part of the parade. This fascinating procession is accompanied by the bedlam of musicians loudly beating gongs and drums to scare away evil spirits. 

Bun snatching

The centrepiece of the festival is at Pak Tai Temple where are the "Bun Mountains" or "Bun Towers", large bamboo structures several stories high, piled with sweet buns. It is those bun-covered towers that give the festival its name. There'll be a race known as "Bun-snatching". Historically, young men would race up the tower to get hold of the buns; the higher the bun, the better fortune it was supposed to bring to the holder's family; the more buns you grabbed the more good luck it will bring.

Burning of paper effigies

At a quarter to midnight a paper effigy of the King of the Ghosts is set ablaze, enormous incense sticks are lit and the buns are harvested and distributed to the villagers, who, pleased to be sharing in this propitious good fortune, rejoice late into the night.

Quick Navigation

New Article