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Local Visit: Hungry Ghost Festival

  • Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Central Ferry Pier No. 8 Man Kwong Street Hong Kong Island Hong Kong (map)

The Hungry Ghost Festival, (Yu Lan Festival盂蘭節), is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in many Asian countries. It opens during the seventh lunar month and is held all over Hong Kong and in 2011 was entered on China’s national list of intangible heritage. Tuesday 12th is the second night of the festival.

During this seventh lunar month (the ‘Ghost Month’ (鬼月), the gates of Hell are opened and ghosts roam the earth to seek food and entertainment. These ghosts and spirits, include those of deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realms, and are believed to visit the living. Altars are built for the deceased and priests and monks perform rituals for the benefit of ghosts which includes ritualistic food offerings, burning incense and paper items such as clothes, hell bank notes, gold and other replicas to appease the spirits, so that these homeless souls do not intrude upon the living and bring misfortune.

A previous RAS-organised visit to the festival was held in 1992.  This time we also include a illustrated talk by Sylvia Fok-Midgett, a local historian, photographer and writer, who will explain the history of the event and forms of celebration in Hong Kong. After the talk, we then take a private coach to Moreton Terrace, Causeway Bay, to see (and hear!) some typical ceremonies, look in at the Cantonese opera and see a huge effigy of the King of Ghosts.

The Speaker
Sylvia Fok-Midgett is a Hong Kong born photographer/ historian who has written articles on local culture and heritage and has made a particular study of the Fire Dragon Festival over many years.

Event rundown:

6.15–7.30pm:  Café 8 (HK Maritime Museum) Welcome drinks, followed by an illustrated talk on the history and significance of the festival by Sylvia Fok-Midgett; light meal/snacks in Cafe 8 are included.

7.45pm: Board our private a/c coach, to Moreton Terrace, Causeway Bay.

8.00-9.30 pm: Walk to the adjoining playground and see some ‘Yu Lan’ opera in the temporary mat-shed theatre, as well as traditional ceremonies.  Members are recommended to visit nearby Victoria Park, to see many temporary stalls, altars and ceremonies set up for this special event; good for souvenirs and late-night snacks. 

Venue: Café 8, Roof Level, Hong Kong Maritime Museum.

Admission: RAS Members $150; Non-Members / Guests $200

Booking: Please email Bill Greaves <> to reserve your place and when confirmed send cheque to RAS (HK), GPO BOX 3864, Hong Kong

N.B.: Please book early, latest Mon, 4 Sep 2017