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HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL

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In year 2011 The Cheung Chau Jiao Festival, the Tai O dragon boat water parade, the Tai Hang fire dragon dance and the Yu Lan Hungry Ghost Festival have been added to the third national intangible cultural heritage list. The cultural significance of these four items is recognised by having them inscribed onto the third national list of intangible cultural heritage.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Hill Road in Shek Tong Tsui
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Playground Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay

There are about 1.2 millions people originating from Chiu Chow in Hong Kong who actively carry on their traditions. They are especially concentrated in most of the old housing estates in urban area, but not NT. During the ghost festival, which lasts for a month every year, the Chiu Chow people in Hong Kong organise the Yu Lan Festival that starts from the first day of the seventh lunar month and continues until the end of that month.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Aberdeen Street in Central
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park

Having been held for more than 100 years, the festival is to offer sacrifices to ancestors and the wandering ghosts in the netherworld. The main activities include burning incense and joss papers, performing live Chinese operas and dramas for ghosts, distributing auspicious rice and auctioning auspicious objects. These performances usually take place in parks or public playgrounds. Chinese opera performance stages and a sacrificial altar are set up at each venue and the dramas are mainly in Chiu Chow style. Other performing arts and handicraft making are also held.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Aldrich Bay playground in Shau Kei Wan
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Cheung Sha Wan, Lei Cheung Uk estate

Hungry Ghost festival is by far the largest scale festival due to its number of opera shows (60) and number of people, who are participating. Despite being the number 1 regarding heritage and diversity in Hong Kong, its history is shorter as most of participants belong to immigrant groups, who came to Hong Kong after the war (Thanks Paul).



Activities related to Yu Lan Festival are held at 80 different places in Hong Kong SAR. Part of those places are:

Hong Kong island (25)

  1. Tin Wan Estate in Aberdeen
    01st and 02nd days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  2. Ap Lei Chau in Aberdeen
    01st to 03rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  3. Chai Wan
    Chinese opera is featured.
    01st to 03rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition)
  4. Stanley
    An exorcising Procession is happening at daytime.
    02nd to 05th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  5. Shau Kei Wan
    02nd to 05th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  6. Playground Kennedy Town (Sai Wan) - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    07th to 09th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  7. Aldrich Bay playground in Shau Kei Wan - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    10th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  8. Tin Wan Estate in Aberdeen
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  9. Wah Fu Estate in Aberdeen
    Hungry Ghosts rituals are important for residents. Many suicide cases happened before in Wah Fu estate. It is believed that the rituals helped to purify and clean the estate to prevent any new suicide cases. A procession of Taoist priests and residents is performing the rituals through the estate.
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Tin Wan Estate, Wah Kwai Estate) (Chiu Chow tradition).
  10. Ap Lei Chau in Aberdeen
    14th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  11. Wah Fu Estate in Aberdeen
    Hungry Ghosts rituals are important for residents. Many suicide cases happened before in Wah Fu estate. It is believed that the rituals helped to purify and clean the estate to prevent any new suicide cases. A procession of Taoist priests and residents is performing the rituals through the estate. Four Yulan festivals at the same time are organized in Wah Fu estate.
    14th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Wah Sang House, Wah Cheong House, Wah Tai House, Wah King House) (Punti tradition).
  12. Sai Wan Ho
    One of the special ritual is the breaking of Hell gate.
    16th to 18th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  13. Siu Sai Wan
    18th to 20th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  14. Chai Wan
    Chinese opera is featured.
    21st to 23rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  15. Playground Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured. The Yu Lan Ghost Festival is the oldest and is over 100 years. It is behind the central Library and reflects one of the old neighborhood of Chiu Chow people.
    21st to 23rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  16. Wah Fu Estate in Aberdeen
    Hungry Ghosts rituals are important for residents. Many suicide cases happened before in Wah Fu estate. It is believed that the rituals helped to purify and clean the estate to prevent any new suicide cases. A procession of Taoist priests and residents is performing the rituals through the estate. Four Yulan festivals at the same time are organized in Wah Fu estate.
    22nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Wah Chui House) (Punti tradition).
  17. Thomson Road in Wan Chai
    23rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition)
  18. Eastern Street in Sai Ying Pun - Fly Fly there
    It had disappeared in year 2010. Not because of money but some people said it was conflicts between old and young generations within the group. In 2011 it was back. In 2014 there was no more Yu Lan festival as well due to lack of money.
    24th to 26th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  19. Staunton Street in Central
    It is a small setup in an area previously called Central 30 Houses. It is now called Soho. There were many coolies houses in this area.
    24th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  20. Aberdeen Street in Central - Fly Fly there
    25th day of the seventh lunar month of every year.
  21. Hing Man Estate in Chai Wan
    26th to 29th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  22. Hill Road in Shek Tong Tsui - Fly Fly there
    This festival is directly under a flyover and possibly the only one in Hong Kong not to take place in a spacious area or playground. Chinese opera is featured.
    27th to 29th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition)
  23. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
  24. Pok Fu Lam

Kowloon (34)

  1. Shek Lei Estate in Kwai Chung
    01st to 03rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  2. Tung Tau Estate in Kowloon City - Fly Fly there
    01st to 03rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  3. Po On Road Playground in Cheung Sha Wan - Lei Cheng Uk estate - Fly Fly there
    Cheung Sha Wan is a very traditional area with four Yu Lan Festivals during the ghost month. Two Chiu Chow festivals (Buddhist ritual), one Cantonese festival (Daoist ritual) and one festival conducted in a special folk religion ritual. They all share the costs of structures of bamboo scaffolding. Yu Lan Ghost Festival in western districts are generally with a longer history and are about 70 or 80 years.
    04th to 06th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  4. Ngau Tau Kok - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured. It is organized at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate (directly across exit-A of Kowloon Bay MTR).
    04th to 06st day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  5. Tsz Wan Shan Estate Central Playground in Tsz Wan Shan
    04th to 06th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  6. Shun Tin Estate in Kwun Tong
    04th to 06th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  7. Kai Tak East Playground in San Po Kong / Wong Tai Sin - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured. Two Chiu Chow communities organize the festivals. So there are two events of three days sharing the same infrastructures but different Chinese opera troupes.
    07th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  8. Yau Tong / Lei Yue Mun
    07th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  9. Po On Road Playground in Cheung Sha Wan - Lei Cheng Uk estate - Fly Fly there
    Cheung Sha Wan is a very traditional area with four Yu Lan Festivals during the ghost month. Two Chiu Chow festivals (Buddhist ritual), one Cantonese festival (Daoist ritual) and one festival conducted in a special folk religion ritual. They all share the costs of structures of bamboo scaffolding.
    08th to 10th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  10. Choi Wan Estate in Wong Tai Sin
    Choi Wan Estate is a 35 years public housing estate. This celebration is facing the threat from urbanisation.
    09th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  11. Shun Lee Estate, Choi Wan Estate, Kai Yip Estate in Wong Tai Sin
    09th and 10th days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  12. Sycamore Street Playground in Mongkok / Tai Kok Tsui - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured. It is located near the Kowloon Funeral Parlour.
    10th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  13. Lam Tin Service reservoir Playground in Lam Tin - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    10th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  14. Shun On Estate in Kwun Tong
    10th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  15. Lok Fu estate, Wang Tau Hom Estate, Tin Ma Court in Wong Tai Sin
    10th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  16. Wuhu Street Temporary Playground in Hung Hom - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  17. Hong Ning Road Playground in Kwun Tong - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  18. Fu Yan Street / Yan Oi Court in Kwun Tong - Fly Fly there
    Yan Oi Court was a 1960's private residential buildings with less than 9 storeys. As Kwun Tong Town Centre Project is ongoing, this celebration is facing the threat from urbanisation.
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  19. Sau Mau Ping road Soccer Pitch in Sau Mau Ping - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  20. King George V Memorial Park in Yau Ma Tei - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  21. Yau Tong
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  22. Ngau Tau Kok - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured. It is organized at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate (directly across exit-A of Kowloon Bay MTR).
    15th to 21st day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  23. Argyle Street Park Playground in Kowloon City - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    16th to 20th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  24. Wai Chi Street Playground in Shek Kip Mei - Fly Fly there
    16th to 20th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  25. To Kwa Wan Recreation Ground in To Kwa Wan - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    21st to 23rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  26. Sycamore Street Playground in Mongkok / Tai Kok Tsui - Fly Fly there
    21st and 22nd days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  27. Mongkok Market - Fly Fly there
    This local Hungry Ghost festival may be over as neighbours complained on disturbance caused.
    22nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year.
  28. Tsz Wan Shan Estate Central Playground in Tsz Wan Shan
    22nd to 25th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  29. Po On Road Playground in Cheung Sha Wan - Lei Cheng Uk estate - Fly Fly there
    Cheung Sha Wan is a very traditional area with four Yu Lan Festivals during the ghost month. Two Chiu Chow festivals (Buddhist ritual), one Cantonese festival (Daoist ritual) and one festival conducted in a special folk religion ritual. They all share the costs of structures of bamboo scaffolding.
    23rd to 25th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  30. Sha Tsui Road Playground in Tsuen Wan - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    27th to 29th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  31. Po On Road Playground in Cheung Sha Wan - Lei Cheng Uk estate - Fly Fly there
    Cheung Sha Wan is a very traditional area with four Yu Lan Festivals during the ghost month. Two Chiu Chow festivals (Buddhist ritual), one Cantonese festival (Daoist ritual) and one festival conducted in a special folk religion ritual. They all share the costs of structures of bamboo scaffolding.
    27th to 29th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  32. Tai Wo Hau playground in Tsuen Wan - Fly Fly there
  33. Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin
  34. Chuk Yuen South Estate in Wong Tai Sin
    First Saturday of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).

New Territories (15)

  1. Lok Tsuen playground in Fanling
    01st to 03rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition)
  2. Kwan Tei in Fanling
    05th and 06th days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition)
  3. Po Fook Hill in Taiwai
    08th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition)
  4. Tai Kong Po, Pat Heung in Kam Tin
    10th to 12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  5. Nam Chung
    10th to 14th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  6. Sam Shing Estate in Tuen Mun
    11th day of the seventh lunar month of every year.
  7. Castle Peak Bay land in Tuen Mun
    11th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Fishermen tradition).
  8. Yim Tso Ha in Sha Tau Kok
    13rd to 15th day of the seventh lunar month of every year. It features Cantonese Opera.
  9. Lau Fau Shan
    14th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition)
  10. Fu Tei Au in Sheung Sheui
    17th and 18th days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition)
  11. Park in Yuen Long - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    18th to 20th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  12. Sham Tseng
    Sham Tseng is the only place with puppet opera for Hungry Ghost festival.
    18th to 20th day of the seventh lunar month of every year.
  13. Yuen Wo Playground in Shatin - Fly Fly there
    Chinese opera is featured.
    21st to 23rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  14. Yuen Wo Road Sports Centre in Sai Kung
    27th to 29th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Chiu Chow tradition).
  15. Sandy Ridge

Islands (10)

  1. Yung Shue on Lamma island
    04th to 06th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  2. Ma Wan
    11st to 13rd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  3. Tai O on Lantau island
    12nd day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Fishermen tradition).
  4. Peng Chau island
    An extraordinay Ghost Banquet organized by the Hoklo Community is happening at nighttime. Rituals are performed by the Hoklo Taoist priests. They are generally quite different from most of the Chiu Chow's Hungry Ghost Festivals conducted in Buddhist rituals emphasizing in scripture chanting. They do carry the statue around the island. Many flags, animal dances and worshipers are present.
    12th to 16th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Hoklo tradition).
  5. Tsing Yi
    15th to 17th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  6. Tap Mun
    16th to 17th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  7. Lung Mo / Yuet Lung Sing Yuen temple on Peng Chau island
    18th to 20th day of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  8. Luk Tei Tung village in Mui Wo, Lantau island
    21st to 24th days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).
  9. Cheng Chau island
    25th and 26th days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Fishermen tradition).
  10. Mui Wo on Lantau island
    25th and 26th days of the seventh lunar month of every year (Punti tradition).


The Yu Lan Ghost Festival of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow community is now part of China's national intangible cultural heritage. It is always impressive to see how the Yu Lan festivals are customized from one area to another. That is very interesting to study.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Wan
Some Hungry Ghost festivals have only featuring sacrifical altars. There is no Chinese opera theater.
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Wan
This small altar is located on Connaught Road West. Each year it is located at the same exact place.

Fly Fly there with Google Earth


Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Eastern Street in Sai Ying Pun
The Ghost King was still under construction for Yu Lan (Hungry Ghost festival) celebration preparation. It is a big scale and is located on Second Street. It includes temporary altars but no Chinese opera.
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Eastern Street in Sai Ying Pun
Hungry Ghost festival under preparation at Eastern Street in Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong island.
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Eastern Street in Sai Ying Pun
The Ghost King is ready for Hungry Ghost festival celebrations. Once the festival is over, all paper effigies are burnt.


Hungry Ghost festival celebrations face a lot of diversity all over Hong Kong SAR territory. Shau Kei Wan celebrations include two celebrations, i.e. a Daoist one and a Buddhist one (Chiu Chow group). They happen the same month but during different days. They also share the temporary structure for the Chinese opera. The Daoist celebration features a specific hell door and a poster instead of ghost King paper effigy.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Aldrich Bay playground in Shau Kei Wan
The Chinese opera theather was not made of bamboo but based on concrete blocks, steel bars and a big red awning. Is it due to budget limitation as building a bamboo theater has become a burden for some communities. It also becomes difficult to find people to build some traditional theater made of bamboo.

In Shau Kei Wan, male Chinese opera performers sleep under the theater.



Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Hill Road in Shek Tong Tsui
The Hungry Ghost festival on Hill Road in Shek Tong Tsui is very special as it takes place under a flyover in a narrow area.


Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Playground Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay
The Hungry Ghost festival taking place on the Playground Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay is special as it features old traditions near a modern building.


Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Ngau Tau Kok Estate
This Hungry Ghost festival like many others is taking place on a playground located in a public estate.


Many Hungry Ghosts festivals happen in Hong Kong during the Ghosts month. Many small scale festivals do happen in public estates.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O
This small scale Hungry Ghost festival does happen in Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O.

Loud music and colorful flags allow finding such events while wandering around Hong Kong.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O
Such Hungry Ghost festivals always happen in public estates and never in private estates. Maybe the community sense is stronger within public estates...
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O
No Chinese opera performance in this small scale Hungry Ghost festival.

Some old or middle age people were folding papers to be burnt later as offerings.

Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O
Food offerings are given to the Hungry Ghosts. A Taoist priest is also present to perform some rituals.
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O
Taai Si Wong, acting as the festival's policeman, is made of paper and is burnt as the end of the festival.
Hungry Ghost festival
-- Hungry Ghost festival --
Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O
This old lady is burning papers and so sending offerings to the Hungry ghosts.



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