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Hong Kong celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival with ‘Fire Dragon’ dance, drum performances, firecrackers

A massive ornate straw-stuffed dragon danced through the narrow streets of a historic neighbourhood in Hong Kong on Monday as part of a century-old ritual.

The annual ‘Fire Dragon’ dance took place under the light of a full moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival and was celebrated by thousands of performers, locals and tourists.

The 67-metre (220-foot) -long beast was made with straw and covered with 70,000 incense sticks, which were then lit and carried by 300 volunteers for three consecutive evenings, accompanied by the sounds of roaring drums, dance performances and firecrackers.

Performers carry an ornate straw-stuffed dragon stuck with incense sticks in Pok Fu Lam village in Hong Kong on Monday night. The annual ‘Fire Dragon’ dance takes place under the light of a full moon during Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations

The head of the 'Fire Dragon' weighs 70 kilograms (150 pounds) and is formed by wrapping straw around a rattan frame

The head of the ‘Fire Dragon’ weighs 70 kilograms (150 pounds) and is formed by wrapping straw around a rattan frame

The dragon dance is thought to date back hundreds of years in the historic village when it was invented to chase away plague

The dragon dance is thought to date back hundreds of years in the historic village when it was invented to chase away plague

A total of 300 volunteers carry the dragon for three consecutive evenings, accompanied by the sounds of roaring drums

A total of 300 volunteers carry the dragon for three consecutive evenings, accompanied by the sounds of roaring drums

Residents are greeted by performers carrying an ornate straw-stuffed dragon stuck with hundreds of incense sticks 

Residents are greeted by performers carrying an ornate straw-stuffed dragon stuck with hundreds of incense sticks 

The body of the massive 'Fire Dragon' consists of 31 segments, which are supported by long bamboo poles

The body of the massive ‘Fire Dragon’ consists of 31 segments, which are supported by long bamboo poles

Locals and tourists welcome the 'Fire Dragon', which is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to residents

Locals and tourists welcome the ‘Fire Dragon’, which is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to residents

The head of the dragon weighs 70 kilograms (150 pounds) and is formed by wrapping straw around a rattan frame.

The massive beast is prompted forward by two ‘pearls’, which are pomelo fruits inserted with lit incense sticks. The fruits are twirled to create a blur of light that looks like shining pearls. 

Video footage of this year’s happy celebrations from Sunday to Tuesday shows the monster billowing fragrant smoke and shaking its head in front of doorways to bring good luck and health to residents.

The tradition is said to have started around 1880, after the village of Tai Hang was hit by a typhoon, followed by a plague.

Desperate to change its fortunes, villagers created a ‘fire dragon’ and paraded it for three days and three nights, chasing away the plague, according to local lore. 

The neighbourhood of Tai Hang was once a coastal village; now, after decades of land reclamation, it lies inland from Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour and is home to upmarket cafes and restaurants.     

The ancient ritual has now spread to different parts of the city, including west Hong Kong’s Pok Fu Lam neighbourhood.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, timed to coincide with a full moon, is celebrated in various east Asian countries including Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam, where locals gorge on pomelo fruit and mooncakes – a dense, sweet pastry – during family dinners. 

The massive beast is prompted forward by two 'pearls', which are pomelo fruits inserted with lit incense sticks

The massive beast is prompted forward by two ‘pearls’, which are pomelo fruits inserted with lit incense sticks

A resident peers through her window as performers carrying the 'Fire Dragon'  pass her home in Pok Fu Lam village

A resident peers through her window as performers carrying the ‘Fire Dragon’ pass her home in Pok Fu Lam village

The ancient ritual has now spread to different parts of the city, including west Hong Kong's Pok Fu Lam neighbourhood

The ancient ritual has now spread to different parts of the city, including west Hong Kong’s Pok Fu Lam neighbourhood

Performers take part in a fire dragon dance event to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, at Pok Fu Lam Village in Hong Kong

Performers take part in a fire dragon dance event to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, at Pok Fu Lam Village in Hong Kong

The ancient ritual has become a a highlight of Hong Kong's Mid-Autumn Festival, attracting thousands of locals and tourists

The ancient ritual has become a a highlight of Hong Kong’s Mid-Autumn Festival, attracting thousands of locals and tourists

Thousands of festival-goers packed a historic neighbourhood of Hong Kong to watch the 'Fire Dragon' lit with incense sticks

Thousands of festival-goers packed a historic neighbourhood of Hong Kong to watch the ‘Fire Dragon’ lit with incense sticks

The mid-autumn festival, timed to coincide with a full moon, is celebrated across different countries in east Asia

The mid-autumn festival, timed to coincide with a full moon, is celebrated across different countries in east Asia

The massive dragon is made of straw and metal and stuck with thousands of incense sticks which are then lit during the dance

The massive dragon is made of straw and metal and stuck with thousands of incense sticks which are then lit during the dance

Video of the celebrations shows the monster shaking its head in front of doorways to bring good luck and health to residents

Video of the celebrations shows the monster shaking its head in front of doorways to bring good luck and health to residents

The tradition is said to have started a century ago, after the village of Tai Hang was hit by a typhoon followed by a plague

The tradition is said to have started a century ago, after the village of Tai Hang was hit by a typhoon followed by a plague

Villagers of Tai Hang created the 'Fire Dragon' to 'chase away' the plague and bad luck, according to local lore

Villagers of Tai Hang created the ‘Fire Dragon’ to ‘chase away’ the plague and bad luck, according to local lore

In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family celebrations and evening barbecues under the full moon

In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family celebrations and evening barbecues under the full moon

esidents said it was important to keep the tradition alive, which has seen its population dwindle as young people move away

Pok Fu Lam residents said it was important to keep the tradition alive as the village population dwindles

The 67-metre (220-foot) long dragon snakes around the network of narrow paths in the village of Tai Hang each year

The 67-metre (220-foot) long dragon snakes around the network of narrow paths in the village of Tai Hang each year

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