Boat fleet makes Tin Hau day a spectacle
A fleet of 40 brightly decorated fishing vessels will tour Victoria Harbour next week as the Tourism Board seeks to turn the annual celebration of the sea goddess Tin Hau's birthday into a tourist attraction.
In the first such spectacle, next Friday the boats will sail from Hung Hom to the 700-year-old 'big temple' in Joss House Bay, Sai Kung.
Fishermen usually sail their boats to temples in their neighbourhoods to seek the blessing of the Taoist deity - credited with predicting weather and saving sailors from shipwrecks - but this is the first time such a co-ordinated effort has been organised for the festival.
Fishing and prawn boats from Chai Wan and Cheung Chau and the traditional Chinese junk Duk Ling will join the parade, which the board is promoting across southern China and in Southeast Asia, along with three other festivals later in the month.
The board's event and product development director, Mason Hung Chung-hing, said that, to watch the fleet, people can gather at Hong Kong Cultural Centre at noon or see it sail past Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai 10 minutes later.
The board expects 40,000 locals and tourists to watch the boats, decorated with colourful flags, as they pass Tsim Sha Tsui and cross Victoria Harbour before heading east to Joss House Bay via Lei Yue Mun.
It will be the first time that such a large number of fishing boats has sailed through the harbour since a similar parade to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival a decade ago.
Each boat that takes part will get 'a four-digit subsidy', the board says.
Celebrations will also be held at the Sai Kung temple, with floral paper offerings and dragon dances to start early in the morning.
The board is also promoting three other traditional festivals, which all fall on April 28: the Cheung Chau bun festival, Buddha's birthday and the birthday of another sea deity, Tam Kung.
Cheung Chau will stage its annual Piu Sik parade and bun scramble, while Buddha's birthday will be marked at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau with face-changing and acrobatic performances.
Tam Kung's birthday will be celebrated with dragon dances and a street parade held next to the Tam Kung Temple in Shau Kei Wan, built in 1905.