The famous Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance — an integral part of Hong Kong’s Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations — will return this year after being cancelled for three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The dance, which has been held for more than 140 years, will be held every night from September 28-30 in the neighbourhood of Tai Hang, from 8.15pm-10.30pm on the first two nights, and 8.15pm-10pm on the last night. 

While there are other fire dragon dances held in the territory, the one in Tai Hang is the most well-known. Residents in the area build a 67-metre-long dragon out of 72,000 incense sticks — the head itself weighing 48kg — which is paraded through the neighbourhood for three nights during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The parade comprises 300 dancers, who are recruited and trained months in advance for the festivities, as well as more than 20 children who hold lanterns and walk in front of the dragon.

The dance is said to have first been held in 1880 when the villagers of Tai Hang constructed a fire dragon with joss sticks and set off firecrackers in a bid to end a plague.

Three children wearing traditional Chinese outfits hold lotus-shaped lanterns suspended from rods and walk ahead of the fire dragon dance procession. A crowd of people from behind a barricade watch them.
Children holding lanterns walk ahead of the fire dragon dance procession in Tai Hang (© Miles Leung via Flickr)

The procession starts at the historic Lin Ka Fung Temple and makes its way through the various streets that criss-cross Tai Hang. The best place to get a good view of the parade is at the intersection of Shepherd Street and Wun Sha Street.

In 2011, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was included in the third national list of intangible cultural heritage, along with the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, the Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade, and the Yu Lan Ghost Festival of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow community.

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The other popular parade held during this time of year is the Pok Fu Lam Village Fire Dragon Dance, which will take place on September 29 from 6.30pm-11.45pm.

Header image credits: janetcmt via Flickr

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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