In the heart of Hong Kong’s bustling city life, an ancient tradition is set to ignite the night with its fiery brilliance. After a hiatus since 2020, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is returning, bringing with it the energy and vibrancy that has made this event a cornerstone of the city’s Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations for over a century.
Credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
The tradition of the Fire Dragon Dance in Tai Hang has its roots firmly planted in the late 19th century. Legend has it that the Tai Hang village, originally a small Hakka fishing settlement, was plagued by a series of calamities, including a devastating plague and typhoon. In an attempt to dispel the misfortune, a village elder suggested performing a Fire Dragon Dance and setting off firecrackers during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The villagers heeded the advice, crafting a dragon from straw and covering it in incense sticks, which they then lit. The dance was a success, and the plague vanished from Tai Hang. The Fire Dragon Dance then became an integral part of the annual celebrations, growing in grandeur year after year.
After a pause since 2020, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is making its much-anticipated comeback. The dragon, an awe-inspiring sight stretching over 67 meters long and adorned with around 30,000 incense sticks, is brought to life by over 300 performers. These skilled dancers maneuver the dragon through the narrow streets of Tai Hang, in a parade that lasts for three nights during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The atmosphere during the dance is electric, filled with the scent of burning incense, the rhythm of drums and cymbals, and the cheer of the crowds.
This year the festival will take place from 28th – 30th September. Be sure to secure your spot by 6pm each evening to see the incredible skills of the dancers and the heady atmosphere of this one-off occasion.
In 2011, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was inscribed onto China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage, a testament to its significant role in Hong Kong’s cultural history.
The dance is not merely a spectacle but a symbol of the enduring sense of community in Tai Hang. Preparation for the event begins months in advance, with the older generation imparting the tradition and know-how to the younger ones, ensuring the dance’s survival and continuity.
The return of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance marks a significant moment, a rekindling of a tradition that embodies the spirit of Hong Kong’s rich cultural heritage. As the dragon dances under the moonlight, amidst the riot of light and sound, one can’t help but be swept up in the magic of the moment.
Whether you’re a local or a traveler seeking to immerse yourself in Hong Kong’s cultural tapestry, the comeback of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is an event that you must not miss.
Hong Kong Greeters will be running a Tai Hang Fire Dragon Experience + Teacake Masterclass on 26th August for The Australian Association of Hong Kong if you would like to know more about this wonderful event.