The firing of Hong Kong's noon day gun is one of the very few traditions that remain from the city's time as a British colony. Fired each day at noon in Causeway Bay, it's worth taking time out from the nearby shopping frenzy to watch the gun go off.
The History Behind Hong Kong's Noon Day Gun
History and hearsay all mixed together, the story behind the Noon Day gun goes something like this. In the early 1900's an overenthusiastic employee of Jardine and Matheson, one of Hong Kong's most influential companies at the time, fired the gun to salute one of the companies ships as it sailed into/out of the harbour. Gun salutes were supposedly the sole privilege of the Governor, who was so outraged by this break in protocol that he ordered the gun be fired every day. More realistically, if less romantically, it's believed the gun was probably fired to help ship's set their clocks to the correct time.
Noel Coward immortalized the clock in his song “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, in the lyrics In Hong Kong/They strike a gong/And fire off a noonday gun/To reprimand each inmate/Who's in late. The song inspired the phrase “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun”.
Where is the Noon Day Gun?
The Noon Day Gun can be found in Causeway Bay. The gun is signposted from the tunnel next to the Excelsior Hotel, which passes below Gloucester Road to the gun.
The story behind the gun is a little more impressive than the hardware, which is actually just a small canon on the seafront set behind a rope. That said, the actual firing is impressive and an almost sole reminder of Hong Kong's British heritage.
When Do They Fire the Noon Day Gun?
Noon, naturally, every day. There is also an additional, and more ceremonial, firing on New Year's Eve at midnight.