The Fire Dragon Tradition Descends on Vancouver’s Chinatown

Photo: @firedragonfest / IG

From September 24 to 26, 2021, an ancient Chinese legend, the Fire Dragon, is paying Vancouver’s Chinatown a visit in conjunction with Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. Presented by the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group’s Culture and Heritage working group, in collaboration with the Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society (VCBIA), Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Chinese Cultural Centre and Chinatown Society Heritage Building Association (CSHBA), the inaugural Fire Dragon Festival and Noodlecious Festival welcome the entire community to join in on family fun activities, live performances, good eats, and of course to meet the Fire Dragon.

Legends say, the Fire Dragon originated approximately 140 years ago in a small village in Hong Kong that was struck by a typhoon, a python attack and then a plague. A village elder was visited by the Buddha in his dream and was told the only way to put an end to all these misfortunes was to build a dragon made of straw and hay filled with incense sticks and dance throughout the village for three days and three nights. Miraculously it was successful and the ritual has been kept alive ever since. In 1975, Vancouver’s Chinatown community built its first Fire Dragon, however it hasn’t appeared again – until now.

“We are thrilled to be working with many community partners resurrecting an ancient ritual, the Fire Dragon Festival, as we welcome people back to Chinatown,” says Jordan Eng, president of Vancouver Chinatown BIA. “The weekend festivities not only include the traditional fire dragon, but various art installations and family oriented activities throughout the neighbourhood representative of the spiritual creature of good luck and prosperity that brings forth harmony.”

Photo: @firedragonfest / IG

The festival will offer a weekend of family fun starting on Friday September 24, 2021 at noon at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall Street), featuring fire dragon dance workshops, mid-autumn crafts such as lantern making and mooncake demos, moon gazing, tea ceremony, Chinese Opera, storytelling and much more. Throughout the weekend, attendees will also have a chance to explore the historical buildings of Vancouver’s Chinatown, learn mahjong and other Chinese games at the Chinatown Plaza (106 Keefer Street), visit the Dr. Sun Yat Sun Classical Chinese Garden, appreciate the festival art installations and even see a fire dragon demo.

The awakening of the Fire Dragon will take place on Saturday, September 25, 2021 evening. Visitors are invited to insert lit incense into the dragon to bring good fortune as we enter the fall harvest season. Space is limited for some activities and available on a first come, first serve basis. Those interested are invited to sign-up early on the festival website.

The inaugural Noodlecious Festival aims to highlight the quintessential Chinese noodle dish and the cultural diversity in the neighbourhood from participating Chinatown restaurants, in addition to their history in the community. The festival will host a weeklong contest on Instagram and Facebook where guests will share images using  #ShowUsYourNoodles and tagging @firedragonfest, @visitchinatown, @vancouverchinesegarden@chineseculturalcenter and participating restaurants. There will be both daily prizes and grand prizes. Contest details will be announced September 18, 2021 on social media.

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