The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival

By | Category: Travel destinations

HK Dragon boatIn Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Tuen Ng Festival (2 June) is only a week away.

It commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese National Hero. In a protest against corrupt rulers, Qu drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. To scare away fish from eating his body, the townspeople beat drums and threw glutinous rice dumplings called zongzi into the water. Today, this event is remembered by Chinese people around the world, who eat zongzi and go swimming or at least dip their hands in rivers or lakes.

With an estimated 30,000 active paddlers, Dragon Boat Racing is extremely popular in Hong Kong and thousands of the world’s top athletes will battle it out in the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races (6- 8 June) as part of this year’s Carnival. The spectacle of ornately carved and painted traditional Dragon Boats racing against the backdrop of the iconic skyline is uniquely Hong Kong, the perfect, thrilling, balance of the very old and the very new. The explosion of worldwide interest in dragon boat racing has transformed this ancient Chinese folk ritual into a modern international sport and piece of theatre.

Outside of the Dragon Boat Carnival, celebrations can be found across Hong Kong as communities hold locally organised dragon boat races, each unique to their area.  Stanley Beach (2 June) sees some of the largest dragon boat races, attracting crowds in their thousands while the fishing village of Tai O (2 June) puts on a water parade in which the temple deities are carried in colourfully decorated sampans pulled naturally by dragon boats.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat festivities have changed over the years as have many the world over. Instead of being just a memory of tradition, today they combine that tradition with active and competitive sports plus parties and fun.

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