Cheung Chau Bun Festival

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am


May 7-11, Cheung Chau, free

As the old story goes, many years ago residents of Cheung Chau were at their wits' end with a plague that had diminished the population of one of Hong Kong's most beautiful islands.

In an era of pirates and disease, residents decided to make a show of support to the gods, Pak Tai, in particular. Portraits of him were paraded around the island, and no small amount of fuss was made.

Within a day, it is said, the plague was cleared, and even the pirates thought twice about returning.

Perhaps it was all down to a cheery Buddha, who, on his birthday, decided to take care of the plague. Whatever the reason, all was safe, and to thank the gods a tower of buns has been erected annually.

Of course, a tower of soft, white buns proved hard for adventurous young men to resist and, historically, they scaled the structure in a race for the highest bun to bring luck to the winner's family. One of the towers collapsed in 1978, injuring more than 100 people, but the ritual returned in a safer form in 2005.

The bun-scrambling competition - which takes place at midnight on Tuesday - is the climax of a festival starting on Saturday, which also features the famous parade of 'floating children' from 2pm on Tuesday.