Tai O lantern festival dims amid fears of visitor crush

Local | Maisy Mok 20 Sep 2021

An influx of visitors into the fishing village of Tai O on Saturday has forced organizers to cancel lighting the traditional lanterns for tomorrow's Mid-Autumn Festival.

Tai O community group Tai O Fei Mao Li, one of the two organizing groups of the Tai O Lanterns Festival, announced yesterday that lanterns will not light up for four days - tomorrow, Wednesday, next Monday and Tuesday.

This means the festival was cut from its original 20 days to 16 days.

"This is to make room for people who have to return to Tai O to celebrate the festival with their family," the group wrote on Facebook yesterday.

The fourth year of the Tai O Lanterns Festival started on September 11 and will last until September 30.

The event is organized by Tai O Fei Mao Li and HK.WeCARE. It features 2,500 hand-painted lanterns that will light up from 6.30pm to 9pm.

Tai O Fei Mao Li said on Facebook: "We want Tai O residents to have a break [on next Monday and Tuesday]."

The group added that two bridges decorated with lanterns, including Sun Ki bridge, were crowded with people on Saturday, causing a pedestrian jam and affecting Tai O residents' daily activities.

The group made changes to the festival's arrangements to keep the festival safe without affecting the residents.

Under the new arrangement, lanterns on the two bridges will not be illuminated until September 30.

However, lanterns hung around three locations, including Tai O Heung Sze Wui Square, will not be affected.

About 30 people were seen waiting for the bus to Tai O at noon yesterday at the Tung Chung Station Bus Terminus.

Cheng, one of those waiting for the bus, had planned to go sightseeing at Tai O with three friends.

She had no plans to go to the lanterns festival and will leave before nighttime if Tai O gets crowded.

"At the end of the day, Tai O is someone's home. It seems like we are bothering them by going there. Normally people would not want their home to be noisy so it's better to leave earlier," Cheng said.

However, she added that tourists going to Tai O would help boost the village's economy.



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