Dragon Boat Festival: Where to go for a roaring wet fun day

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional holiday that commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan. Source: Shutterstock.

CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, the Duanwu festival, otherwise known as the Dragon Boat Festival, has nothing to do with dragons. But it has got to do with boats.

The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and ministry who died in 278 B.C. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Milou river after he was slandered by the members of the Han Dynasty and exiled from his home. After which, the local people who admired him raced out in their boats in an attempt to save him or retrieve his body.

When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body.

Thousands of years later, revelers across Asia still come out in droves for one day in the early summertime to eat sticky dumplings and race ornate boats shaped like dragons to honor Qu Yuan.

This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on June 18, 2018, a public holiday in some Asian countries including Hong Kong and Taiwan. In celebration of the holiday of Duanwu, rowers will take to the rivers to show off their months of preparation for the festive dragon boat races.

A dragon boat is a brightly decorated human-powered boat or paddle boat that is traditionally made of teak wood to various designs and sizes that range anywhere from 40 to 100 feet in length.

It has a front end shaped like an open-mouth dragon and a back end with a scaly tail.

This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on June 18, 2018, a public holiday in some Asian countries. Source: Shutterstock. Source: Shutterstock.

Usually, a sacred ceremony is performed before any race in order to “bring the boat to life” by painting the eyes. The first team to grab a flag at the end of the course wins the race.

Some of these races and festivities kick off way before the actual celebration.

For example, Jakarta’s Dragon Boat Festival will be held on May 5 to May 6, 2018, on the waterfront of Baywalk Mall in Pluit. Spectators can expect more than 40 teams comprising over 800 paddlers competing over two days, vying for 18 trophies, 340 medals, and cash prizes.

The race, which encompasses 250 meters, includes mixed, men, women and student invitational categories.

Dragon boat racing is a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization, and endurance. Source: Shutterstock.

Apart from the dragon boat race, attendees will also be able to engage in social events and enjoy the festivities around food and merchandise stalls.

Other Asian countries that will be a part of the Duanwu celebrations include:


  • Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018.
  • Venue: Xixi National Wetland Park, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China.
  • Details: Website | Facebook.


  • Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018.
  • Venue: Taipei’s Dajia Riverside Park, Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City Taiwan.
  • Details: Website | Facebook.

Hong Kong

  • Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018.
  • Venue: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
  • Details: Website | Facebook.


  • Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018.
  • Venue: Nam Van Lake Nautical Center, Macao.
  • Details: Website.


  • Observed dates: May 12 to May 13, 2018.
  • Venue: Likas Bay, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
  • Details: Website | Facebook.