Dunhuang Silk Road show - Silk Road, Flower Rain
Home Dunhuang Travel Guide Top Dunhuang Silk Road Shows – 4 Best Performances in Dunhuang

Top Dunhuang Silk Road Shows – 4 Best Performances in Dunhuang

Dunhuang, with its historic significance as a vital stop on the ancient Silk Road for centuries, was endowed with rich cultural and historic relics. The city is known worldwide for its Mogao Grottoes which houses numerous Buddhist frescoes and sculptures. Today, the creative artists have brought Dunhuang’s artistic legacy to life through many top-notch performances.

In this article, we will offer a detailed introduction to the four top Dunhuang Silk Road shows, which are Silk Road and Flower Rain, Dunhuang Grand Ceremony, Encore Dunhuang, and Ancient Sound of Dunhuang. Based on your preferences, you can add any of these Silk Road shows to your Dunhuang trip to glimpse into the mysteries and charms of the legendary Silk Road.

Silk Road, Flower Rain (丝路花雨)

The most classical and recommended Silk Road show in Dunhuang, “Silk Road, Flower Rain” is a magnificent dance drama which draws inspiration from the ancient Silk Road and the captivating murals and frescos of the Mogao caves in Dunhuang. Unfolding against the backdrop of the flourishing Tang Dynasty, the drama depicts a compelling story about the the master painter Zhang who work in the Mogao Caves and his daughter, a talented dancer named Yingniang who was kidnapped by bandits and undergone many adventures along the ancient Silk Road connecting China and many other countries. The story portrays the duo’s joys and sorrows, and their pure friendship with the Persina merchant Enusi.

Performance in Dunhuang - Silk Road, Flower Rain
Silk Road Flower Rain

The show debuted in 1979, and quickly received a good reponse thanks to its enchanting melodies, captivating dance performances, and captivating portrayal of the Tang Dynasty’s cultural richness. In the past 35 years, “Silk Road, Flower Rain” has been staged for over 2300 times and captivated audiences in over 20 countries. In 2008, as a symbol of Silk Road culture, the show took center stage during the Beijing Olympics cultural events. In 2017, the revamped version of the “Silk Road, Flower Rain” became a regular show at the Dunhuang Grand Theater, seeing enduring popularity and high attendance rates.

The variety of dance styles is a highlight of this six-acts drama, combing classical Chinese dance, Indian dance, Persian belly dance, and the innovative Dunhuang Dance which is a new dance form created in this drama.

Shows in Dunhuang - Silk Road, Flower Rain
Silk Road Flower Rain

Storyline of Silk Road, Flower Rain:

  • Prelude: In Tang Dynasty, along the Silk Road, the renowned master painter Zhang and his daughter Ying Niang saved Persian merchant Enusi from sandstorm in the desert. Unexpectedly, Ying Niang got kidnapped by a bandit.
  • 1stAct: Years later in Dunhuang’s market, Zhang finally found Ying Niang, now a talent dancer enslaved by a traveling bandit. Enusi redeems Yingniang, Zhang and Ying Niang got reunited.
  • 2ndAct: In the Mogao Caves, master painter Zhang, inspired by Ying Niang’s dance, created a masterpiece of Dunhuang murals – The Sky-flying”rebound lute”. The local magistrate attempts to claim Ying Niang, Zhang send her away with Enusi to Persia to safeguard her. Zhang was imprisoned in the Mogao caves and forced to wear shackles while painting.
  • 3rdAct: The Hexi military commander restored Zhang’s freedom and rewarded him with an official paintbrush after being impressed by his painting skills.
  • 4thAct: Yingniang shared skills with Persians. 3 years later, Enusi was assigned a mission to the Tang Dynasty, and Yingniang accompanied him.
  • 5thAct: The magistrate was conspiring to intercept the Persian caravan, Zhang attempted to alert the caravan and was tragically shot by an arrow. In a critical moment, Zhang lighted a signal fire to alert the surroundings, and urged Enusi and his daughter to eliminate the magistrate.
  • 6thAct: On the opening of the Dunhuang 27 Nations Friendship Gathering, Ying Niang performed a captivating dance, and revealed the magistrate’s crimes after the dance. The magistrate was severely punished to ensure friendly relations between nations.
  • Epilogue:Bid farewell to the envoys from 27 nations after the gathering, symbolizing enduring friendships forged through the Silk Road.

Venue & Ticket Information:

  • Venue:Dunhuang Grand Theater
  • Location: 2713 Wenbo East Road, Dunhuang City, Gansu Province
  • Time: 20:30 – 21:50
  • How to get there:You can get there by taking a taxi within 15-20 minutes, or you can take the shuttle bus departing from the Mo Gao Caves Ticket Reservation Center at 19:00, and arrive at the theater at about 20:00. After the show, take the shuttle bus to get back along the same route.
  • Ticket prices:starting from CNY 238, vary according to your seats (see the price table below).

Seat Types

Ticekt Prices (CNY/seat)

VIP Seat

588

Other Seats

A 368
B

328

C

298

D

238

Dunhuang Show - Silk Road, Flower Rain floor plan
Silk Road Flower Rain floor plan

Dunhuang Celebration(敦煌盛典)

Dunhuang Celebration is a large scale real-scene outdoor show, with the Echo Sand Mountain, Crescent Spring and the starry night sky as the background. This Silk Road show depicts a legendary love story between a princess and a painter, and authentically revives the charm of Tang Dynasty art with a gorgeous stage design and captivating dance performances. The show is performed in Dunhuang Mountain Villa, where the splendid Han and Tang Dynasty architecture also help to enhance the audience’s immersive experience.

Dunhuang Silk Road Show - Dunhuang Celebration
Dunhuang Celebration

To create a mesmerizing experience for the audience, Dunhuang Celebration also implements a dazzling array of elements, such as the 360-degree rotating and movable audience seating arrangement, the large-scale lighting effects with 3000 special effect lighting devices, cutting-edge stage technology, traditional ‘Iron Flower’ art, and a powerful lineup with over 200 performers and a large camel caravan.

Dunhuang Silk Road Performance - Dunhuang Celebration
Dunhuang Celebration

Storyline of Dunhuang Celebration:

  • Prologue:Stars grazed the vast desert, the princess and painter Moding pledged love, but the princess must finish her diplomatic mission to the Western Regions.
  • Act 1:Accompanied by the distant camel bells, uplifting tunes and drums echoing, Moding followed the princess’s camel caravan and finally reached Dunhuang driven by the promise of love.
  • Act 2:Followed the Triumphant horns, the ancient town was brightened and begun to clamor. The princess exchanged attire with a dancing girl, and escaped to Dunhuang’s bustling streets to meet her beloved one.
  • Act 3:In the endless desert, loneliness and fear set in, and storms unfolded. The princess was brought back to the palace, lived out her days in melancholy. With a yearning for the princess, Moding immersed himself in the creation of murals and sculptures of Buddha, leaving a brilliant mark on the Silk Road.
  • Act 4:On the Qixi night, Moding gazed the stars, stirring the dreams hidden in his heart: he saw the crescent moon rise from the blue spring, and “Moding” and the “Princess” danced on the moon.
  • Epilogue:Moonlight and the campfires illuminated Dunhuang like a dreamy realm.

Venue and Ticket Information:

  • Venue: in Dunhuang Mountain Villa
  • Location: 200 meters west from Dunhuang Mountain Villa, Dunyue Road,  Dunhuang City, Gansu Province
  • Time: 21:30-22:40
  • How to get there:The venue is about 4 km from Dunhuang city center, you can take a taxi to get where within 10 minutes. Or, you can take bus No. 3 from the city center and get off at the “Dunhuang Mountain Villa” station, it’s a 1-minute walk from venue.
  • Ticket prices:CNY 238 for ticket C, CNY 288 for ticket B, CNY 318 for ticket A, and CNY 588 for VIP ticket.

 

Silk Road Show - Dunhuang Celebration Floor Plan
Dunhuang Celebration Floor Plan

Encore Dunhuang (又见敦煌)

Encore Dunhuang is a large-scale indoor play that is guided by the idea of “traversing”, depicting stories and histories of 6 famous characters in different dynasties. The show weaves their stories into a large narrative, offering immersive experience of the military might of the Tang Dynasty, a grace lady of the Song Dynasty, the struggles of commoners in chaotic times… Since its debut in 2016, Encore Dunhuang has been staged for nearly 4,000 times, and welcomed over 2.31 million domestic and international visitors.

Silk Road show in Dunhuang - Encore Dunhuang
Encore Dunhuang

The show is staged in the Encore Dunhuang Theater, a sunken architecture with blue outer facade, resembling a clear spring merging with natural landscape of the desert. As you step into the theater, a spectacular display of visual effects, music, dance, and acrobatics will revive the ancient stories. To ensure an immersive experience, audiences can physically traverse different scenes while watching the show, that means they can stand beside the performers to enjoy the show and can follow the performers to move between different halls.

Silk Road Performance in Dunhuang - Encore Dunhuang
Encore Dunhuang

Storyline of Encore Dunhuang:

  • Act 1:The first act is like a memoir. Amid the flowing crowd, vivid historical figures of the Silk Road made runway-like entrances.
  • Act 2: The second act is the Taoist Wang Yuanlai’s repentance. He was remorsed for trafficking cultural relics.
  • Act 3:After Wang Yuanlai’s confession, the palace maids led the audiences to traverse narrow and winding passages, and eventually arrived in a cave where figures from the Mogao Caves murals surround the audiences on all sides.
  • Act 4:During the act 4, audiences will find themselves entering a room resembling a study filled with books. General Suo Jing of the Western Jin, Zhang Yichao, appeared  before us. Zhang led the people of Shazhou to expel the nomadic tribes who had oppressed people in Hexi region for centuries.
  • Epilogue: Despite being buried underground today, the Silk Road and Dunhuang culture remain immortal.

Venue and Ticket Information:

  • Venue: Encore Dunhuang Theater
  • Location:on the west side of Mogao Caves Digital Display Center 
  • Time: 20:00-21:30 additional performaces will be available in peak seasons
  • How to get there: A taxi ride will cost about CNY 25-30 from Dunhuang city center to the theater.
  • Ticket prices: CNY 298/318 for regular ticket, CNY 688 for VIP ticket.
Encore Dunhuang Floor Plan
Encore Dunhuang Floor Plan

Ancient Sound of Dunhuang (乐动敦煌)

This drama a relatively new Silk Road show in Dunhuang which made a spectacular debut on June 15th, 2023. Boasting the world’s first cave-style immersive theater experience drama, “Ancient Sound of Dunhuang” aims to revive the ancient musical instruments and music scores by interpreting the murals and ancient scriptures in the Mogao Caves, and using modern technology, such as lighting, installations and video images.

The performance tells the moving story of Bai Xin, a young man from the the Western Regions, who passionately pursues art and ultimately discovers the true essence of music within the Dunhuang musical murals.

Dunhuang Silk Road Show - Ancient Sound of Dunhuang
Ancient Sound of Dunhuang

Going beyond the traditional theatrical space dimensions, the theater for the “Ancient Sound of Dunhuang” creates a unique “living” Cave 736, inspired by the existing 735 caves of the Mogao Caves. It replicates features like Cave of Manuscripts, Buddha niches, Lotus Platform, and musical and dance scenes from the murals, etc. creating an immersive space that’s not just visually appealing but also interactive.

The entire theater is an immense, boundary-less stage, being divided into four viewing areas: A, B1, B2, and C. In areas A, B1, and B2, audience can follow the light guide to move forward and watch the show, and take a seat to watch when move to area C.

Silk Road Performance in Dunhuang - Ancient Sound of Dunhuang
Ancient Sound of Dunhuang

Storyline of Ancient Sound of Dunhuang:

  • Act 1 (in Area A):The Interpretation of Western Regions Music. The renowned musical prodigy Bai Xin decided to accompany the Western Regions envoy to the Central Plains to explore a new world.
  • Act 2 (in Areas B1 & B2):The Interpretation of Central Plains Court Music. Bai was captivated by the musical world depicted in the murals in Mogao Caves while passing through Dunhuang. He decided stay in Dunhuang to study and dreamed to integrate the essence of Eastern and Western music.
  • Act 3 (in Area C):The Interpretation of Central Plains Folk Music. Bai was moved by people’s yearning for a happy life during Dunhuang’s Shangyuan Lantern Festival. After the festival, as the prosperity faded away, facing the murals, Bai immersed in solitary contemplation, as if merging into the artwork.
  • Act 4 (in Area C): The Interpretation of Dunhuang Music. Bai discovered the vast realm of artistic creation, achieving his dream of merging Eastern and Western music in Dunhuang, creating a timeless masterpiece.

Venue & Ticket Information:

  • Venue:The Ancient Sound of Dunhuang Theater (乐动敦煌剧场)
  • Location:On the west side of the Dahuang Tourism Distribution Center in Dunhuang City, Gansu Province
  • Time: 19:30 – 20:40
  • How to get there:From Dunhuang city center to the theater, a taxi ride will take about 15 minutes and cost about CNY 26.
  • Ticket prices:298 yuan for regular seat ticket, 398 yuan for VIP seat, and 888 yuan for Supreme seat
Ancient Sound of Dunhuang Floor Plan
Ancient Sound of Dunhuang Floor Plan

Recommended Dunhuang Tours

A major hub of the ancient Silk Road that is surrounded by the Gobi desert, Dunhuang is rich in historic relics and heritages, and offers stunning desert landscapes and experiences. Some of the top tourist attractions in Dunhuang include the Mogao Caves, the Yumen Pass, the Echoing Sand Dunes, the Crescent Spring, and the Yadan National Geological Park. Typically, a Dunhuang tour lasts 2-3 days to cover its main highlights. Many visitors choose to extend the Dunhuang trip to more destinations in northwest China, like Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Xining, etc. for a more in-depth Silk Road experience. Below are some of our recommended Dunhuang Tours and Silk Road Tours including Dunhuang. These are sample itineraries to get you inspired, you can contact our travel consultants to tailor make your own trip based on your preferences. Of course, we can add any of the Silk Road show mentioned above to your itinerary, if you like.

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