This Saturday, June 20 is the annual Dragon Boat Festival. Colorful, loud and fun this festival shows Hong Kong’s athleticism and history in a very unique way. Head to Stanley beach or Cheung Chau for the biggest races and the biggest crowds or Aberdeen, Shatin, Taipo and Lantau for smaller crowds. No matter where follow the rhythmic drumming, it will lead you to the boats.
The festival began to show respect to the Dragon and to celebrate the end of the wheat harvest. Bundles of rice wrapped in bamboo leaves are thrown to the water. There is also legend that a High Officer and poet, Qu Yuan, drowned himself in protest of the incoming Qin leader during the Warring States. Folklore says that the people searched for him in long boats throwing bundles of rice to lure predators away from Qu Yuan’s body. Current research shows that the festival began before this as harvest celebration and to thank the deities for the bounties offered.
Regardless of which story you choose to believe and there are many more to choose from. Today, the event is about boats, beaches and lots of fun, a great family celebration! At Stanley races will be going from 8am until 6pm and although the beach will be crowded there is plenty of space for viewing from the piers. Each of the boats will have a drummer and 18 paddlers who have spent the past few months training for the big day.
In the end the races are just a ton of cheering fun with a crowd people all rooting one another on. There are stalls selling beverages and food, and lots of fun. Head out to the nearest beach and enjoy a day of fun!