The Chinese Lunar New Year is just days away! Apart from its origin country, this celebration is now honored all over the world.
Each city or nation has its own way of celebrating the occasion, but there’s one element which is almost always constant. One of the most watched spectacles in every Chinese New Year celebration is the iconic Dragon Dance.
The cultural dance is very much a highlight and given that Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most traveled regions, this article will help you find the best destinations within the region to celebrate Chinese New Year wherein you can watch the most vibrant demonstrations of the iconic practice, as well as immerse yourself in other festivities. Without further ado, here are the top three countries in Southeast Asia to witness the Dragon Dance.
Singapore, as small as its land area is, has one of the biggest celebrations of Chinese New Year in Asia, perhaps even the world, due to the fact that the majority of the population has Chinese ancestry. Worldette mentioned that the nation holds an annual Chingay Parade – Asia’s largest street procession. Of course, this massive program is not complete without the dragon dancers displaying their masterful moves for the delight of all onlookers.
If you travel frequently then you probably have an idea how many tourists flock to Vietnam every year; much more so when the nation celebrates the Chinese New Year, known locally as Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet for short. Tet is the greatest festival in all of Vietnam and the celebration is truly on a different scale.
Paste Magazine described how the country’s streets are awash with red and yellow or gold, the primary colors of Chinese New Year, which are also the hues mostly used by dragon dancers on their costumes. You’ll get to see Dragon Dance performances at both private and public gatherings as all of Vietnam pays homage to their ancestors and prays for another bountiful year ahead.
Head to Malaysia, particularly in Penang, to witness a glorious celebration of Chinese New Year filled with dragon dances accompanied by firework displays. The entire city of George Town in Penang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its cultural significance and this designation is embraced by the city by holding some of the biggest festivities in all of Malaysia during Chinese New Year celebrations. The city’s Kek Lok Si Temple, one of South East Asia’s biggest, get adorned with colorful lanterns and the surrounding area comes to life as dragon dancers make their way around the site.
What’s more epic is that some Dragon Dance processions are so intricately designed and well prepared, that the ‘dragon’ stretches up to 100 meters – comprising of several dancers. According to The Culture Trip, this is because of the belief that the longer the dragon is, the more fortune it brings.
For similar reasons, the biggest celebrations of Chinese Lunar New Year also bring in the most wonderful Dragon Dance performances. The spectacle has captivated people’s hearts and gained widespread admiration so much so that the ancient tradition of Dragon Dance is now presented through modern mediums as well.
There are countless tutorial videos showing in detail the movements of the dance from basic to the most elaborate steps. For instance, a YouTube video by HongkongMap highlighted the popular ‘8-shape’ formation which is usually performed by dragon dancers.
Moreover, the vibrant appearance of dragon dancers has become a source of inspiration for video games. Daily PC Game Reviews displayed how Liong: The Dragon Dance showcases colorful dragon dancers in costumes even on its first loading screen. Additionally, the gaming company Slingo which ports a variety of classic mashup games also makes use of the lively elements of the iconic tradition in its Dragon Dance slot title. The positive characteristics of the Dragon Dance have turned it into an instrument of joy and good vibes in both virtual and real worlds.
In all, watching dragon dancers in action complimented by the smooth flow of their interconnected costumes as they execute their steps is a mesmerizing sight and a truly unforgettable experience. You might see them on screen through videos, games or TV coverage of Chinese New Year celebrations, but witnessing the movements and gorgeously designed costumes in person while surrounded by the festive atmosphere is a memory you will cherish for a lifetime.