For many people, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is a chance to eat, drink and view colourful and entertaining boat races, but for those taking part it’s a range of gruelling and highly competitive events.
The festival always starts on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. This means it usually falls in May or June, in 2018 it starts on 18th June.
It’s a spectacle that you’ll never forget attending, it’s not just the colours but the sheer noise of the crowds, not to mention the constant booming of the boat’s drummers, building a rhythm to drive their team to glory.
If legend is correct the festival started out with humble beginnings way back in the third century.
A local old politician called Qu Yuan became angry at the politics in his country, so angry in fact that he took himself to the river and promptly drowned himself.
The local people all rushed to rescue him, boarding their boats and racing out to the river. They banged gongs and drums in an attempt to scare away anything in the river that may come to harm Qu Yuan. They also threw rice into the river as they believed it would keep the old man calm.
Their rescue was unsuccessful but the attempt is still celebrated to this day. The events are bigger and far more colourful but the noise and the rice throwing have not changed.
The Dragon Boat Festival is now so popular that it is celebrated all across the world, however nowhere is it celebrated more fiercely than in Hong Kong itself. The event attracts some of the best dragon boat racers and teams from across the globe and it is actually a public holiday too.
The biggest event during the festival takes place on the day itself, the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships.
Over two hundred dragon boat teams from Hong Kong and around the world compete in some of the most high octane races you’ll see in this sport.
Crowds of 30,000 people flock to see these races too.
If you miss the Championships, the Dragon Boat Carnival is a three day event and usually takes place in June or July. This massive party can be found in Victoria Harbour but you’ll have no trouble finding events to attend all round the city. Hong Kong takes its dragon boat racing very seriously, especially in the summer months.
If you’re looking for Hong Kong apartments to rent, don’t forget about the dragon boat races. The best place to stay in Hong Kong might just be the place nearest to one of these unforgettable races.