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Hong Kong to stage new Mega Event – the Culture & Heritage Celebration in April 2006
Mar 22, 06 | 8:54 am
To showcase Hong Kong’s unique culture and heritage to global visitors during 2006 Discover Hong Kong Year, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will stage a brand new Mega Event – the Culture & Heritage Celebration – this April. For the first time, the HKTB will simultaneously promote four traditional Chinese festivals and related activities across the city. To highlight the various elements of these festivals and enable visitors to experience the colourful celebrations, the HKTB will organise a “Temple Fair” beside the Central Ferry Piers, adding dramatic contrasts of sight and sounds to modern Hong Kong.
Running between 20 April and 7 May, the Culture & Heritage Celebration will promote festivities surrounding the Birthdays of Tin Hau, the Lord Buddha and Tam Kung, as well as the famous Cheung Chau Bun Festival. These include the “Bathing Buddha” Ceremony in Po Lin Monastery, the street procession, bun scrambling competition and carnival on Cheung Chau Island, and the lion, dragon and fa pau (floral paper offerings) parades in various districts.
HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong said that unlike conventional temple fairs, which are themed around a single event, the HKTB Temple Fair will feature a cluster of festivals. “Comprising distinctive local elements, ancient customs and traditions, festive decorations, cultural performances, as well as a host of interesting activities, the Temple Fair presents the four festivals in miniature,” she remarked. “Conveniently located in Central district, it will give visitors a taste of the festivities, arouse their interest and encourage them to travel to the respective districts or outlying islands to experience the celebrations for themselves.
“More importantly, in organising this Mega Event, we aim to showcase Hong Kong’s rich and varied culture, and let the world know that our city is more than just a shopper’s and gourmet’s paradise, but one with diverse heritage attractions, and a busy year-round calendar of celebrations and events,” Ms Chong added. “We hope this event will offer our tourism industry partners an effective platform to further promote Hong Kong, and make our destination even more appealing to international travellers.”
The Culture & Heritage Celebration has received tremendous support from several parties and religious organisations, some of which have agreed to enhance the celebratory programmes. For example, the Cheung Chau street procession will be extended to two days for the first time since 1979, while the “Bathing Buddha” ceremony will last for 10 days, giving more visitors the opportunity to experience the events.
Colourful Temple Fair at Central Ferry Piers
To highlight the vibrant celebrations of these festivals, the HKTB will turn the Central Ferry Piers into a giant Temple Fair during the Mega Event period. As well as erecting a series of pai lau and 50-feet tall replicas of the Cheung Chau bun towers, traditional lanterns will adorn two major walkways. The Temple Fair will comprise of three sections, namely the Blessing, Wishing and Performance Zones, each featuring different festive decorations, such as 20-feet high fa pau, a Buddha statue from Po Lin Monastery, Buddha bathing stand, fortune-telling corners, lanterns with the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, as well as a traditional temple theatre constructed from bamboo.
At the Temple Fair, visitors and local residents will be able to practice age-old customs, such as making the white Chinese buns of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, participating in the “Bathing Buddha” ceremony, or creating traditional handicrafts. They can also listen to myths and legends of the festivals from experts, and enjoy cultural performances to acquire greater knowledge of the festivals. As the Temple Fair is located in the city’s central business district and at the heart of Hong Kong’s transportation network, visitors can easily travel to other districts or the outlying islands to join the local celebrations.
Strong Support from the Travel Trade
The tourism industry is also actively leveraging on the platform created by the Culture and Heritage Celebration to enrich the visitor experience. To date, a number of travel agents have already introduced new and creative itineraries themed around the festivals by repacking the existing attractions and local celebrations. As dining is an important part of the festive celebrations, the HKTB has invited accredited restaurants of the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) scheme and those included in the Discover Hong Kong Year Bonus Guide to design special vegetarian menus and prepare Cheung Chau buns for visitors to enjoy.
Following the Culture and Heritage Celebration, the HKTB will organise another Mega Event themed around traditional Chinese festivals – the Mid Autumn Lantern Celebration – in September. As well as promoting Hong Kong’s cultural and heritage appeal and hence attract more visitors to the city, this Mega Event will allow visitors to immerse in a special and unique cultural experience in 2006 Discover Hong Kong Year.
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