Mid-Autumn Festival Fire Dragon Dances
Why We Recommend it
67-metre-long fire dragons come alive in the streets of Tai Hang and Pokfulam during 3 full-moon days over Mid-Autumn Festival as villagers light up the incense sticks on the dragons’ bodies and dance away – a tradition to dispel disasters a century ago.
A few days before Mid-Autumn Festival around a century ago, a typhoon devastated the fishing and farming community of Tai Hang, before a plague took place, and then a python ate the villagers’ livestock. A soothsayer decreed that the only way to stop the series of misfortune was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming festival. The villagers made a huge dragon from straw and covered it with lit incense sticks. They danced for three days and three nights to drum music and erupting firecrackers — and the plague miraculously disappeared.
Fast forward a century, Tai Hang is no longer a village, but locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual to this day with a whopping 67-metre-long dragon, which takes about 300 performers and over 24,000 incense sticks per night to put on a three-day performance. The dragon head alone weighs 70 kg. It is led by men holding up two ‘pearls’, or pomelos with numerous incense sticks inserted into them. On the day before the Mid-Autumn Festival, dragon dance participants perform rituals in the Hakka dialect at Lin Fa Temple, a Declared Monument known for its unique East-meets-West style architectural features.
This traditional celebration in Tai Hang has been selected as China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage.
The fire dragon dance also takes place in Pokfulam, where villagers strengthen their community ties through the century-old events of crafting of the dragon, consecration, and dancing, before sending the fire dragon to the sea at Waterfall Bay to ask for good fortune, health and luck.