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Dragons and Lions of Hong Kong

One of the great cultural traditions that still lives strong in Hong Kong day-to-day life is the Lion and Dragon ceremonies.

Dragon dance

(simplified Chinese: 舞龙; traditional Chinese: 舞龍; pinyin: wǔ lóng) is a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture.  It’s most often seen in festive celebrations with the most famous in Hong Kong being Mid-Autumn festival where it’s actually known as “Fire Dragon” as it’s lit with many joss sticks. The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon. The dance team mimics the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner.  The dragon is preceded by a ball or in some cases two.  It’s very loud and often seems chaotic just like Hong Kong but it’s in fact very organized and systematic once you see the pattern.

The dragon dance is often performed during Chinese New Year. Chinese dragons are a symbol of China, and they are believed to bring good luck to people, therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community.  The dragons are believed to possess qualities that include great power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness. The appearance of a dragon is both frightening and bold but it has a benevolent disposition, and so eventually became an emblem to represent imperial authority. The movements in a performance traditionally symbolize historical roles of dragons demonstrating power and dignity.

Lion dance

(simplified Chinese: 舞狮; traditional Chinese: 舞獅; pinyin: wǔshī) is much smaller than the dragon and is usually made up of two dancers who are often swapped out much like a dragon dance team.  In Chinese culture and other Asian countries in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume. The lion dance is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals. It may also be performed at important occasions such as business opening events, special celebrations or wedding ceremonies, or may be used to honour special guests by the Chinese communities.

  • Hong Kong Three Lions
    Hong Kong Three Lions
  • Hong Kong Nightly Laser Show
    Hong Kong Nightly Laser Show
  • Hong Kong Yin and Yang Lions
    Hong Kong Yin and Yang Lions
  • Mid-Autumn Tai Hang Fire Dragon Hong Kong
    Hong Kong Fire Dragon Dance
  • Hong Kong Tai Hang Fire Dragon
    Tai Hang Fire Dragon Action
  • Hong Kong Fire Dragon Dance 2015
    Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance
  • Tai Kok Tsui Festival Lanterns
    Tai Kok Tsui Festival Lanterns
  • Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Fire Dragon
  • Tai Kok Tsue Festival Dragon
    Tai Kok Tsui Festival Dragon
  • Pole Dancing Lions
  • Hong Kong Smoking Dragon
    Smoking Dragon
  • Hong Kong Lion Up a Pole
    Lion on a Pole
  • Lion-Dance – Ladies Market CNY
    Lion-Dance - Ladies Market CNY
  • Hong Kong Chinese New Year Lion Dance
    Lion Dance - Ladies Market - Chinese New Year
  • Pok Fu Lam Fire Dragon Dance
    Pok Fu Lam Fire Dragon Dance
  • Tai Hang Fire Dragon and Shadow
    Tai Hang Fire Dragon and Shadow
  • Tai Hang Head of the Fire Dragon
  • Fire Dragon Mid-Autumn Tai Hang
    Fire Dragon Mid-Autumn Tai Hang
  • Tai Hang Chasing the Ball
    Tai Hang Chasing the Ball
  • Hong Kong Tai Kok Tsui Festival
    Tai Kok Tsui Festival
  • PokFuLam Mid-Autumn Fire Dragon
    PokFuLam-Village Fire Dragon
  • Hong Kong Tai Hang Frantic Fire Dragon Dance
    Hong Kong Tai Hang Frantic Fire Dragon Dance
  • Hong Kong Disposing of the Fire Dragon
    Hong Kong Disposing of the Fire Dragon
  • Hong Kong Tin Hau Fire Dragon Dance
    Hong Kong Tin Hau Fire Dragon Dance
  • Hong Kong Tai-Hang Fire Dragon
    Tai-Hang Fire Dragon
  • Hong Kong Tin Hau Fire Dragon Capture
    Hong Kong Tin Hau Fire Dragon Capture
  • Hong Kong Fire Dragon at Tai Hang
    Hong Kong Fire Dragon at Tai Hang
  • Hong Hong Tai Hang Mid Autumn Fire Dragon Festival
    Into the Eyes of the Dragon
  • Hong Kong Tai Kok Tsui Festival Dragon Dance
    Tai Kok Tsui 500ft Luminous Night Dragon
  • Hong Kong Ladies Market Chinese New Year Lion Dance
    Lion Dance in Ladies Market
  • Hong Kong Tai Kok Tsui Temple Fair
    Hong Kong Tai Kok Tsui Temple Fair

Hong Kong Festivals and Additional Information

Mid-autumn festival is a very busy and colourful time in Hong Kong.  The red lanterns are hanging and locals are running around buying mooncakes to give to each other.  There are also a few interesting dragon dances well worth catching and both have different local significance. Hong Kong Tai Hang Fire Dragon Mid Autumn Festival for more details and images.

“locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual today with a whopping 300 performers, 72,000 incense sticks and a 67-metre dragon…for 3 moon-fueled days”

For those looking for a smaller and ability to get close to the action with less people then on the day of Mid-Autumn head to Pok Fu Lam Village on the south west side of Hong Kong Island.   The dragon is still loaded with joss (incense) sticks creating lots of smoke and very stunning visual effect just on a smaller scale.

All Dragons and Lions of Hong Kong images seen on this page are available for order on this site.  Simply click image and pick size and paper type for the print you want.

If there is no festival going on during your visit, here’s your chance so you don’t miss out on the colorful lion dances and martial arts demonstrations, the gongs and drums that are a part of all festivities.

This one is another open air event, and takes place at Kowloon Park on Sundays, a great weekend afternoon with the family. At the end of the demonstrations the public is invited to try their skills, and the instructors are happy to lead visitors through typical kung fu movements.

Sponsored by the HK Leisure and Cultural Services Department together with the many martial arts and kung fu associations, the event is free and open to all.

When? Sundays 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Weather permitting.

Where? Sculpture Walk, Kowloon Park, 22 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Directions: Take MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station, Exit A1.

How Much? Free.

More Info: www.lcsd.gov.hk/kung_fu_corner

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