The Annual Dragon Boat Festival Races Across China!

The Duanwu Festival, also often known in the West as the Dragon Boat Festival, is a traditional holiday originating in China. The Dragon Boat Festival is held yearly on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. This year the festival begins on Monday 18th of June, where locals travel across the country to take part in the event. Although it originated in 278 BC, this festival was not recognized to be a traditional public holiday until 2008.

What started as a search and rescue mission, many believe that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China based on the suicide of the Chinese poet, Qu Yuan in 278 BCE. Qu Yuan drowned himself by attaching a heavy stone to his chest and jumping into the Miluo River in 278 BCE at the age of 61.

Locals furiously paddled down the river to try to save him, to no avail. Later, they threw rice dumplings into the river as an offering to his spirit, and so that the fish wouldn’t feed on his remains. They also continued racing along the water with beating drums to ward off evil spirits.


In more recent days, locals celebrate by eating rice dumplings and drinking realgar wine, but the real highlight of the festival is the fierce-looking dragon boats racing to capture the flag. These boats are between 40 and 100 feet long and have a maximum capacity of 80 people. On each side of the boat you’ll find incredible artwork and designs, with the front representing the head of a dragon, and the back being the tail. Before the race begins, competitors take place in a sacred ceremony, in order to bring the boats alive. The boats then race to obtain the flag placed at the end of the river, representing the struggle and search for Qu Yuan.

Dragon Boat Victoria

Although Dragon Boat racing is ingrained in Chinese culture, it has evolved into a highly competitive sport across the globe. Dragon Boat Victoria delivers regattas across metropolitan and regional Victoria. This is particularly highlighted at our Chinese New Year event where you will see spectacular displays from the Chinese Dancing Dragons and Monks blessing the boats.

If your looking to get involved in Australia, Dragon Boat Victoria invites people of all ages, fitness levels and ability to take part in this fantastic sport. You can find more information on how to get involved at their website.

Take a look at the video below where you’ll see some of the action from last years event!