Little known ways to the best Hong Kong dragon fire dance
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and arresting atmosphere of this unique Hong Kong festival! With flame and fury visitors can experience Hong Kong’s Epic ‘Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance’
In the 19th century, the people of Tai Hang began performing a dragon dance to stop a run of bad luck afflicting their village. More than a century later, their village has been all but swallowed up by Hong Kong’s fast-growing city. But the dragon keeps on dancing.
Three hundred performers. One 67-metre-long dragon, its sparkling spine ablaze with 24,000 incense sticks. Lighting up the night sky for over 130 years, the three-day-long Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is one of the most magical events during Hong Kong’s vibrant Mid-Autumn Festival (15th day of the 8th lunar month).
Held this year from 12 to 14 September 2019, spectators can see first-hand the incredible skill, dedication and zeal that the Tai Hang community pours into each dance performance. It takes at least one month to hand-craft the dragon from a mixture of rattan, hemp and pearl straw bindings. A dance troupe of more than 300 performers practices the graceful and intricate steps, which make the dragon appear to fly through the streets amidst the roar of drums and gongs. It’s no easy task – the dragon’s head alone weighs over 70kg!
Throughout the festival, the atmosphere feels altogether magical. As the dragon swoops and swerves through the streets of Tai Hang, colourful lanterns glow overhead and fellow performers skillfully pass enormous orbs of glowing incense from one dancer to the next while enthusiastic crowds cheer them on.
“Our father’s generation were fire dragon performers, too. I started carrying the dragon body when I was 15 years old. I’m now 72,” said Chan Tak-fai, Commander-in-Chief of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance.
“If I have kids, I hope they will perform with me. I want to continue the culture and traditions,” adds 33-year-old performer Angus Wong Ho-kit.
Inscribed on China’s National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011, the event began in 1880 as a ritual to drive away a dangerous plague that had devastated the Tai Hang community. Year after year, generation after generation, the fire dragon dance has had an enduring ability to touch the hearts and lives of locals and travellers alike.
“The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance reflects the depth and dynamism of Hong Kong’s culture,” said Dr Pang Yiu-kai, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. “In this fast-paced, cosmopolitan city there’s still so much history and heritage to absorb. It’s truly a diverse travel destination, brimming with ancient traditions and craftsmanship.”
For further information or to attend this festival visit here.