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At the end of September this year, much of East Asia will celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. The festival looks different everywhere – for example, the Tai Hang neighborhood of Hong Kong has its own special tradition, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance.
For three nights, 300 performers will carry a glowing dragon through the community’s streets, parading this giant creature in a dance as it snakes around the area. At 67 meters long, this guy is hard to miss. This is the first time that the dragon will be revisiting its route since 2019, and locals have been missing him.
“We are thrilled that the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is returning this season after a four-year hiatus, and look forward to welcoming local and global visitors to join the celebrations,” says Cheung Kwok Ho, Almon, Acting Commander in Chief of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance and local of Tai Hang. “The dance is more than just a performance – it is an inseparable part of our lives and we are proud that traditions like ours will always live on as we pass the legacy on to the next generation.”
The Fire Dragon Dance has been rooted in Hong Kong tradition for over 140 years. Based on oral history, there was a python in the Tai Hang village killing livestock around the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival. After someone killed it, a plague hit and killed many villagers. Locals saw this plague as a punishment for killing the python, which had really been the son of the Dragon King. To end the plague, they held a fire dragon dance and set off firecrackers. Then, the plague went away. Since then, the Fire Dragon Dance has become a yearly tradition.
Nowadays, this performance looks a bit different. The dragon itself is made from tens of thousands of lit incense sticks. Along with the dancing dragon, there are lantern holders and musicians.
If you’re in the city, you can catch the dance from 8:15-10:30 p.m. on September 28 and 29, and then between 8:15-10 p.m. on September 30. The best place to watch is from Wun Sha Street.