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Dragon Boat Festival and Races

Mia 2023-06-19

Origin of the Dragon Boat Festival

 The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival, has ancient Chinese origins and is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It dates back over 2,000 years and is associated with the legend of poet Qu Yuan, who sacrificed himself in the Miluo River. People raced in boats to save him and threw rice balls into the river to prevent fish from consuming his body, giving rise to the tradition of eating zongzi (sticky rice tamales) during the festival.



Customs of the Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Racing: A prominent tradition of the festival is dragon boat racing, where teams paddle in decorated dragon-shaped boats, symbolizing collective efforts and determination.


Zongzi (Sticky Rice Tamales): Eating zongzi, sticky rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves, is customary during the Dragon Boat Festival. They come with various fillings and hold symbolic significance.


Artemisia Leaf Hangings: People hang artemisia leaves on their doors during the festival, believed to possess protective properties and ward off evil spirits.


Colored Threads and Accessories: Some individuals wear colored threads and accessories like bracelets and necklaces to repel evil spirits and invite good fortune.


Realgar Wine Sprinkling: Realgar, a medicinal substance, is soaked in wine and used as a disinfectant during the festival. Elders apply it on children's ears, nose, forehead, wrists, and ankles to protect them from mosquitoes, snakes, and other creatures.


Best places to view dragon boat races

Watching a dragon boat race is a thrilling and captivating experience. The synchronized paddling, colorful decorations, and energetic atmosphere create a spectacle. The rhythmic drumming and cheers add to the excitement. Learning about the history and cultural significance enhances appreciation. It's a fun and engaging experience for all ages. Here are most popular places to watch dragon boat races.


Hunan Miluo River International Dragon Boat Race Center

Miluo is the birthplace of the great patriotic poet Qu Yuan, where he lived, wrote, and ultimately sacrificed himself for his country. In commemoration of Qu Yuan, the Dragon Boat Festival in Miluo typically spans from the first to the fifteenth day of the lunar month.


Wuhan Han River

The Dragon Boat Race on the Han River is held in remembrance of Qu Yuan. According to legend, Qu Yuan wandered along the banks of the Han River during his exile, leading to the early establishment of the tradition of "Dragon Boat Racing at noon on the Dragon Boat Festival," in accordance with the Chu custom of mourning Qu Yuan.


Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Dragon Boat Racing on the Qiantang River in Hangzhou has a long-standing history. The "Weekend Dragon Boat Racing in Xixi" event, part of the 2023 Xixi International Dragon Boat Culture Festival, will be held every weekend from May 13th to June 11th, between 13:00 and 15:00.


Sanzao Town, Zhuhai

This is home to the "World's Longest Sea Dragon Boat Race." The race covers a distance of 12 kilometers, comparable to a sea dragon boat marathon, and is expected to last approximately 2 hours.


Qiandongnan, Guizhou

In the Qiandongnan region of Guizhou, the Miao people hold dragon boat racing customs from the 16th to the 18th day of the fifth lunar month.



The 2023 Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Race will take place on June 17th, in the section of the Pearl River between the North Gate Square of Sun Yat-sen University and Guangzhou Bridge. Additionally, various villages in Guangzhou host dragon boat races of varying scales, like Liede, Chepi.


Fuzhou, Fujian

The 2023 China Dragon Boat Championship in Fuzhou will take place in Fuzhou. And Fuzhou also has unique night dragon boat races of varying scales.


Dongguan, Guangdong

Dragon boat racing in Guangdong is one of the region's most influential traditional cultural events, and Dongguan holds the country's longest-running dragon boat racing season, accompanied by a lively dragon boat atmosphere.


If you find yourself traveling in China during the Dragon Boat Festival season, be sure to enjoy watching a dragon boat race.

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