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Lantern Dance

The lantern dance is an East Asian folk dance that involves waving a lightweight lantern in the air while accompanied by traditional music. Participants stand in a line or circle and twirl with their lanterns, which are lit and sometimes attached to a stick. Other times, participants may use props such as lotus-shaped lanterns, flowers, and handkerchiefs. At the end of an outdoor performance, participants and spectators will often release their lanterns at the same time. The dance typically occurs in a performance setting, so participants spend a significant amount of time in rehearsal and wear traditional clothing while performing. Dancers may sing traditional folk songs while performing and are accompanied by percussion instruments.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Hua gu deng; Flower drum light

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

The lantern dance originated in China centuries ago and spread to other East Asian countries, such as Vietnam, before gaining popularity in Canada with the arrival of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants.

Who takes part?

Males and females of diverse ages, most of whom are females from the GTA's Vietnamese or Chinese communities.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

The lantern dance occurs most frequently at cultural festivals and important events in the East Asian lunar calendar, such as the Vietnamese Lantern Festival and Lunar New Year festivities.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

The lantern dance is performed by various dance troupes and Chinese or Vietnamese cultural organizations. Some of these organizations are associated with kung fu or tai chi companies. The Vietnamese Women’s Association of Toronto Family Services organizes an annual lantern festival.

Cultural Significance

This traditional folk dance is culturally significant for some members of the Chinese-Canadian and Vietnamese-Canadian communities. The dance is often performed to showcase aspects of the Chinese and Vietnamese culture to GTA residents from diverse ethnocultural backgrounds.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • Harbourfront Centre
    235 Queens Quay
    Toronto, ON M5J 2G8
  • Hershey Fields
    5600 Rose Cherry Pl
    Mississauga, ON L4Z 4B6
  • Toronto Chinese Dance Academy
    80 Esna Park Drive
    Markham, ON L3R 2R7
  • Chinese Collective Arts Association
    7725 Birchmount Road
    Markham, ON L6G 1A8

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