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The colorful and spectacular Chinese New Year -- Year of the Dragon -- exhibit officially opens Thursday at the Bellagio and is on display through March 4 (Chinese New Year begins Monday). The mythical dragon symbolizes power and good fortune, and Feng Shui, attracting positive life energy, balance and harmony, guides the exhibit.
The exhibit’s centerpiece is two animated, 25-foot blue dragons coiled around a cylinder of water representing the Year of the Water Dragon. The dragons blow steam from their nostrils to playfully swat at an oversized, iridescent red pearl hanging above. The pearl represents prosperity, wealth and good luck.
For the first time, Las Vegas-based Beijing Trio will perform traditional folk and pop music with Chinese instruments including the erhu, ruan and pipa. The free performances are 5 to 6 p.m. daily in the wing-tipped Ming Dynasty-style gazebo in the South Garden for the duration of the exhibit.
Nearby, two additional animated dragons, green and gold in color, lunge in the direction of the centerpiece. The dragons, 15 feet in length, represent wood and metal and are surrounded by a zigzag bridge that leads to the gazebo. The bridge’s design follows Feng Shui, providing a difficult route for negative energy and bad spirits.
Steps away in the North Garden, two final animated dragons, brown and red, mirror their counterparts. These dragons represent earth and fire and are surrounded by oversized silk red Chinese lanterns, a Chinese-style bridge and gold leafed I-Ching coins, a Chinese money symbol.
The entrance features a 21,000-gallon pond to house more than 200 Koi fish. The pond is found amid gold leafed I-Ching coins and flanked by four Ming Dynasty-style dings, ancestral vessels that protect against bad fortune.
The Bellagio’s Chinese New Year exhibit is free and open to the public 24 hours a day seven days a week. Thanks to Christopher DeVargas of the Las Vegas Sun and Tom Donoghue for their fabulous photo galleries.
Another dragon on the Strip
The Palazzo’s Waterfall & Atrium Gardens this Chinese New Year is home to a 128-foot, 8,000-pound dragon suspended 19 feet in the air. Some 50 designers, welders and painters spent more than a year creating the Feng Shui-designed zodiac.
According to Feng-Shui practices, Peter Lung of World of Feng Shui says it is good luck and removes obstacles in the New Year to visit the dragon and walk around it three times in a clockwise motion.
The red-and-gold water dragon will be introduced in a ceremonial dragon dance at 1 p.m. Jan. 23 and will breathe fire and smoke at select times the first week of Chinese New Year.
Don Chareunsy is editor of VegasDeLuxe.com and arts and entertainment editor of LasVegasSun.com.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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