One of Hong Kong‘s most interesting annual festival – the Hungry Ghost Festival – falls on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month, which happens to be on August 15 this year. The whole month is actually called the ‘Ghost Month’ because it’s believed that the gates of the afterlife open up to allow spirits to roam the Earth. While it sounds like a haunted and spooky holiday, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a celebration to honour dead ancestors and relatives.
The event is preceded by a series of ceremonial festivities and Chinese opera performances that are held from August 1 and continue till September 29. According to traditional Chinese belief, efforts must be made to appease these transient ghosts by ‘feeding’ their own ancestors on the day of the Yulan or Hungry Ghost Festival. In this year’s edition of the Yulan Festival, an exhibition showcasing customs and traditions will be staged in Victoria Park. There will also be Chinese opera performances around town, usually held on temporary bamboo stages, to praise the charitable and pious deeds of the deities.
For the traveller, it’s a perfect opportunity to see live some of Hong Kong’s most bizarre yet interesting culture, with many people tending roadside fires and burning faux money and other offerings for the ghosts and ancestors to use in their afterlife. Food is also left out to satiate the appetite of the hungry ghosts.
Other celebratory events that you must experience first-hand are these: festival treats competition, Yulan festival offerings competition, exhibition of historical photos of Yulan, Yulan culture in Asia, Yulan theatre that are going to take place at Soccer Pitch 1, Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.
The best way to get there is by coming out on MTR Causeway Bay Station (Exit E), and then walking along Great George Street until you reach the park. Or you could come out on the MTR Tin Hau Station (Exit A2), turn left at the exit and continue ahead until you reach the park.