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Dragons and Lions Dance in Hong Kong



I really love surprises when I’m traveling.  Not the nasty, “Your flight is canceled” or “No, we don’t have your reservation” disasters.  I relish the unexpected, the experiences and sights not written up in the guide books. The Serendipity.

Had one of those experiences  recently in Hong Kong when we got a letter from management of our hotel  notifying us that our street would be closed off for the New Year’s Eve Countdown.

 That wasn’t the surprise though.  The happy news appeared almost as an afterthought.  It said that on New Year’s Day  there would a Dragon and Lion Dance Extravaganza right near our hotel.   Hundreds of Dragon and Lion Dancers would be performing right in our back yard.

Wowy zowy… Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for Chinese Culture Addicts.

I immediately scratched any plan to visit the Big Buddha, Victoria Peak or one of  thousands of markets in this fabulous city on that day.

Instead, camera in hand I roamed the crowded area, trying to get the best shots possible given the swirling masses of dancers, volunteers, family members of the participants and festival goers.


I don’t know too much about this tradition but am learning.  Our son’s wedding included a Lion Dance ceremony designed to promote prosperity and fertility. (This is good, huh?).  The colorful pageantry  fascinating  me.



I learned that Dragons are legendary animals important to Chinese people who think of them as friendly, helpful creatures, not at all like the fire breathing fierce creatures of the Western world.  They don’t carry off princesses or eat people.  Instead they are linked to long life and wisdom.

Having special powers enabling them to  fly in the air, swim in the sea and walk on land, they often perform at New Year’s to ward off evil spirits.

 Street celebrations often include a traditional LionDance  which is thought  to bring good luck. There are usually two dancers. One acts as the head

and the other the body. They dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong. A mirror is placed on the head of the lion so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections.

 The whole extravaganza was marvelous I but found myself drawn to the small children, clearly learning and participating in traditional Chinese rituals.




Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    peggy depersia
    Jan 5, 2013 Reply

    I definitely believe in the power of symbols!!!!!!!

  2. posted by
    Jan 6, 2013 Reply

    The colors of your photography are beautiful. Fun to learn about the dragons in another culture. Changes my attitude toward them!

  3. posted by
    Discovering a Pirate in the British Virgin Islands | DesignDestinations
    Mar 9, 2013 Reply

    […] too long ago I was hanging out in Hong Kong with my son and new daughter-in-law, meeting her extended family and celebrating their marriage.  […]

  4. posted by
    Don’t Miss Eataly in Chicago | DesignDestinations
    Feb 24, 2014 Reply

    […] While much smaller in scale (one lion versus hundreds ) than the one we saw in Hong Kong a year ago (yep, click here for that blog post), it was great fun to see the dancing and enjoy the music, celebrating  the Chinese New Year […]

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