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Spring into Hong Kong’s cultural celebrations

One season, four festivals, hundreds of performers, thousands of years of tradition, hundreds of thousands of incense sticks, and who knows how many buns! Witness the timeless, intangible culture of Hong Kong in four festivals this spring.

Behind this modern and cosmopolitan city, rousing gongs and drums, colourful parades, ancient rituals and bizarre customs signal a celebration of its ancient Chinese past, with the birthdays of Tin Hau, Buddha and Tam Kung, plus the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
The best way to delve into Hong Kong’s fascinating culture is to take part in one of these traditional festivals and carry on hundreds of years of rich tradition.
Hong Kong’s maritime heritage ensures that the birthday of Tin Hau (22 April), Goddess of the Sea and patron saint of fishermen, is celebrated in style in Hong Kong. Locals flock to the temples dedicated to her in Hong Kong for safety, fine weather and full fishing nets. In Yuen Long spectators can enjoy a colourful parade of floral wreaths and lion dances, while in Sai Kung a decorated procession of fishing boats mark the occasion travelling to the city’s oldest Tin Hau temple.
Tam Kung is another sea deity revered amongst fishermen and coastal communities, birthday celebrations (6 May) take place across Hong Kong and include a spectacular parade, lion and dragon dances and martial art performances.
The Birthday of Buddha (6 May) is celebrated across Asia but Hong Kong adds its own unique style to the festivities, with celebrations centred around the Pol Lin Monastery which sits in the shadows of the world’s tallest, outdoor, seated bronze Buddha, known as the Big Buddha.

Festivities vary from the solemn Buddha bathing ritual, incredible face-changing performances to Kung Fu performances by Shaolin Monks at the Po Lin Monastery and the fabulous Buddha Birthday Carnival. During the Buddha’s Birthday celebrations, you can take part in the Bathing the Buddha ceremony.

The colourful cultural festivities in Hong Kong are brought to a dramatic end with the Cheung Chau Bun Festival (3-7 May). This unique week-long celebration includes a parade of mythological Chinese characters and the Cheung Chau Bun Scrambling Competition where contestants clamber up a 14 metre tower stacked with buns to the amusement of thousands of spectators. 
The highlight of the festival is the Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade. This dramatic re-enactment of the ceremonial parade held to drive away a plague a century ago, sees young children, dressed in the guises of traditional deities and modern celebrities, balance on poles and accompanied by gongs and lion dancers, appear to float above the crowds in a carnival-like procession.
Visitors are encouraged to make like the locals and participate in Hong Kong’s Spring cultural celebrations to experience the energy, tradition and passion that are the very soul of modern Hong Kong.
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