Lunar New Year in Hong Kong: 5 places to go dragon-spotting in the city

The dragon plays a vital role in Chinese culture, symbolising magnificence, auspiciousness and might.

It is one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac which has a 12-year cycle in this sequence: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

As Hong Kong prepares to welcome the Year of the Dragon on February 10, the Post lists where to go in the city to find artistic renditions of the mythical creature.

Hong Kong Palace Museum, West Kowloon Cultural District

A jade seal on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum epitomises the association of dragons with China’s imperial dynasties.

Crafted in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and decorated with a double-headed dragon on top, the seal’s imprint symbolised the authority of the emperor on important court documents.

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A portrait of Ming prince Xing Xian dressed in a robe embroidered with dragons is on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. Photo: May Tse

It is among several exhibits on loan from Beijing’s Palace Museum for the Year of the Dragon.

Others include a Ming dynasty blue-and-white porcelain vase decorated with a leaping dragon, and a portrait of Ming prince Xing Xian in a robe embroidered with several dragons.

These dragon-themed exhibits have been placed in different parts of the museum and visitors are encouraged to look out for them. The museum is closed on the first two days of the Lunar New Year.

Tai Kwun, Central

Dragons make their appearance at InnerGlow 2024, a light show projected onto the heritage buildings at Tai Kwun until February 14, except on February 10 and 11.

The beige and grey facades and pavements of the former prison compound in Central turn into three-storey tall giant canvases at night, illuminated with vibrant festive colours.

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The three-storey facade of the former prison compound Tai Kwun turns into a canvas at night. Photo: Eugene Lee

The light show was inspired by the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance which usually takes place around the Mid-Autumn Festival and is regarded as part of the city’s intangible cultural heritage.

The show is spearheaded by the Australian company Electric Canvas in collaboration with local talents and involves City University, the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

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Art Museum of Chinese University, Sha Tin

More than 50 objects from the museum’s collection featuring dragon motifs will be shown between February 2 and July 31. They include items made of jade, oracle bones, metal and ceramics.

Among them is a turquoise seal that inspired the museum’s emblem, dating to the Western Han dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD). Other highlights include an annular white jade box from between the 8th and 13th centuries, and a brush holder created by the legendary ceramic designer Tang Ying (1682-1756).

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The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Art Museum will hold an exhibition featuring dragon motifs. Photo: Elson Li

The exhibition “Celebrating the Year of the Dragon” also shows how the mythical creature was represented through different eras of Chinese history and how ideas about it evolved.

Cultural Centre Piazza, Tsim Sha Tsui

A specifically commissioned large dragon lantern will be on show at the Cultural Centre Piazza on Tsim Sha Tsui’s promenade.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the “Dancing Dragon with Lanterns to Greet the New Year” will be on display until February 25 and illuminated daily between 6pm and 11pm.

The green dragon, together with traditional lanterns decorated with lotus blossoms, was designed and crafted by local artisan Chan Yiu-wah.

Airside, Kai Tak

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Shoppers at shopping centre Airside at Kai Tak. An exhibition at the mall will showcase the ways dragons have featured in Hong Kong community. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

The GATE33 Gallery at Airside in Kai Tak, the aviation-themed shopping centre, explores the many ways dragons have featured in the lives of Hongkongers. The exhibition Local Dragon Quest is on until March 12.

The famous Tai Hang fire dragon will make its appearance, and there is a recreation of the “Dragon and Phoenix Grand Hall” popular in the 1980s, when Chinese restaurants had a large dining space with dragon and phoenix sculptures painted in gold and occupying a prominent spot.

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Artist Frog King, or Kwok Mang-ho, will distribute his “Frog-Dragon” art pieces, and four tattoo artists will show some of their work.

Graffiti artist Uncle852 will show his Hong Kong-style dragon graffiti while artist Angel Hui Hoi-kiu will demonstrate how she renders dragons on her medium of choice, toilet paper.

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