A 67 metre long dragon lit up with 72,000 incense sticks dancing around the street at night… if there’s a festival in Hong Kong not be missed, it’s definitely the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance.
Every year the Fire Dragon Dance takes place for three consecutive nights down the streets of Tai Hang over mid-autumn festival – but how did this unique event start? To find out we need to rewind and go 130 years back in time.
Tai Hang was once no more than a small Hakka village. In the year 1880, a terrible typhoon hit the village and this was just before a plague infestation settled in Tai Hang. But that wasn’t the end of it; just like the saying goes ‘bad things comes in threes’ – a large python had moved into town and was eating all the livestock.
‘No more!’ cried the villagers, and off they went to seek out a soothsayer for help. The soothsayer proclaimed that if the villagers were to stage a fire dance for three days and three nights over mid-autumn festival then all will be fine again.
Using a little bit of creativity, the villagers gathered and made a huge dragon out of straw and lit incense. With the main prop in hand, the villagers paraded and danced on the streets for three consecutive days. Amidst the banging drums and crashing cymbals, the dragon flew past the narrow, winding streets of Tai Hang, its body glowing fiery red with every turn, leaving a trail of smoke as the crowd cheered on. And as you may already have guessed, it worked!
For the next 130 years the villagers of Tai Hang continued the tradition. Putting on a spectacular show which has now earned the event a place in China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage. Alongside the manic Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance has now become one of the most popular and important events on the Hong Kong festival calendar.
- The dragon head alone weighs 48kg
- The dance requires almost 300 performers
- The ‘pearls’ leading the dragon are made from pomelos with incense sticks inserted
- The dragon is thrown into the sea at the end of the last day, symbolising the return to the sky
We hope this post has given you guys an insight into the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. Have any questions or would like to get in touch? Please feel free to drop us a comment below, shoot us an email or find us on instagram and facebook!