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Flame and Fury: Experience Hong Kong’s Epic ‘Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance’

July 22, 2019 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

Three hundred performers. One 67-metre-long dragon, its sparkling spine ablaze with 24,000 incense sticks. Lighting up the night sky for over 130 years, the three-day-long Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is one of the most magical events during Hong Kong’s vibrant Mid-Autumn Festival (15th day of the 8th lunar month).

Held this year from 12 to 14 September 2019, spectators can see first-hand the incredible skill, dedication and zeal that the Tai Hang community pours into each dance performance. It takes at least one month to hand-craft the dragon from a mixture of rattan, hemp and pearl straw bindings. A dance troupe of more than 300 performers practices the graceful and intricate steps, which make the dragon appear to fly through the streets amidst the roar of drums and gongs. It’s no easy task – the dragon’s head alone weighs over 70kg!

Throughout the festival, the atmosphere feels altogether magical. As the dragon swoops and swerves through the streets of Tai Hang, colourful lanterns glow overhead and fellow performers skillfully pass enormous orbs of glowing incense from one dancer to the next while enthusiastic crowds cheer them on.

“Our father’s generation were fire dragon performers, too. I started carrying the dragon body when I was 15 years old. I’m now 72,” said Chan Tak-fai, Commander-in-Chief of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance.

“If I have kids, I hope they will perform with me. I want to continue the culture and traditions,” adds 33-year-old performer Angus Wong Ho-kit.

Inscribed on China’s National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011the event began in 1880 as a ritual to drive away a dangerous plague that had devastated the Tai Hang community. Year after year, generation after generation, the fire dragon dance has had an enduring ability to touch the hearts and lives of locals and travellers alike.

“The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance reflects the depth and dynamism of Hong Kong’s culture,” said Dr Pang Yiu-kai, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. “In this fast-paced, cosmopolitan city there’s still so much history and heritage to absorb. It’s truly a diverse travel destination, brimming with ancient traditions and craftsmanship.”

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has created a captivating video to share the festival’s rich history and fierce, fiery energy. Arresting and evocative, the video introduces the passionate people keeping the tradition alive, while turning the spotlight on the sheer beauty of the festivities.

We encourage media to embed the video online, use the raw footage and interview transcripts (available in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese), and share this unique piece of Hong Kong heritage with readers and viewers: https://hktb.filecamp.com/s/12SqdOpxQffrv3OP/fo/ckOQIUtZliikl4vt

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