The strong interest in dragon dance has led to the birth of several innovations and adaptations. A Singaporean innovation is the luminous dragon. First used in 1967, the dragon prop was painted with luminous paint and illuminated with UV light during the performance. It was a huge hit, and luminous dragon dance competitions were subsequently held in Singapore and other neighbouring. Singapore is also the birthplace of the lotus dragon, which debuted in the 1995 Chingay Parade. Designed with lotus flowers, this version of the dragon dance can be performed in the rain.
Another more general adaptation is the music and instruments used. In the past, accompanying music was played with instruments similar to those used for Chinese opera, which were smaller in size and more suited for stage performances. As dragon dance performances in Singapore are usually held at large open-air venues, big drums and gongs are used instead.
In recent years, the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation has held non-conventional competitions such as the Speed Dragon Challenge. Troupes are required to finish a fixed set of formations as quickly as possible using a seven-section dragon, rather than the standard nine-section dragon. They are also allowed to use non-traditional music, or no music at all.
Another variation is the fire dragon, traditionally performed in China in autumn to celebrate a good harvest. In China, the body of the dragon is typically made of paper and each section of the dragon is lit by candles or filled with firecrackers. The performance ends when the dragon is completely burnt.
In Singapore, the Mun San Fook Tuck Chee temple, located at Sims Drive, performs the fire dragon as part of the rituals conducted during the birthday of the Earth Deity (大伯公 Da Bo Gong). The practice here follows the Guangdong variation where the dragon prop is made from hay instead of paper. For this variation, the body of the dragon is filled with incense sticks, instead of firecrackers or candles.
When performed in Hong Kong, the dragon is tossed into the sea at the end, signifying its return to sea. In Singapore, the dragon is laid in a corner to burn up, signifying its ascent to heaven.