DRAGON BOAT RACING & FESTIVALS 2013
Dragon boat racing is a popular sport in Hong Kong which has an estimated 30,000 active paddlers. During 2013, Hong Kong hosts major international and local dragon boat festivals, including the traditional Tuen Ng dragon boat races on 12th June at various locations and the three-day Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival which features the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races at East Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade at Victoria Harbour on 21st to 23rd June.
HONG KONG DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL (TUEN NG) 12th JUNE 2013
The dragon boat races at the traditional Tuen Ng Festival on Wednesday 12th June 2013, will see local races taking place at several locations including Sai Kung, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun (Castle Peak Bay), Cheung Chau, Tai Po, Aberdeen, Discovery Bay and Tai O on Lantau Island and Stanley, which hosts the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships. Details of events taking place on 12th June are;
ABERDEEN - 2013 Aberdeen Dragon Boat Race, from 9-30am, Aberdeen Promenade, Admission free for viewing on promenade. Free by ticket only for spectator stand (contact Aberdeen Dragon Boat Race Committee tel: 8107 3488 for information)
STANLEY - *Stanley International Dragon Boat Championship 2013, 8am to 6pm, Stanley Main Beach, Admission free. This is the largest of the Dragon Boat Race events at Tuen Ng and attracts about 30,000 spectators. Prior to the international races on 12th June, the 8th Stanley Dragon Boat Warm-up Races take place on 25th May 2013.
SHA TIN - Sha Tin Dragon Boat Race 2013, 8am to 12-30pm, Shing Mun River (starting near Banyan Bridge), Admission free
SAI KUNG - The Sai Kung Dragon Boat Race Festival, 8am to 1-30pm (and carnival 2pm to 5pm), Sai Kung Town Waterfront, Admission free
TUEN MUN - Tuen Mun District Dragon Boat Races 2013, 8am to 12-20pm, Castle Peak Bay Typhoon Shelter, Admission free by ticket (contact Tuen Mun District Dragon Boat Race Committee tel: 2542 6520 for information)
TAI PO - Tai Po District Dragon Boat Race 2013 - 8-30am to 1pm, Tai Po Waterfront Park Promenade, Admission free
DISCOVERY BAY - Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Race and Carnival 2013, Racing 8am to 6pm, Tai Pak Beach, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, Admission free. Carnival 8am to 6pm Discovery Bay Piazza.
TAI O - Tai O Dragon Boat Racing Competition, 10am to 2pm, Tai O Promenade, Admission free. Includes the ancient "Gods Parade" (see below).
CHEUNG CHAU - Cheung Chau Dragon Boat Races, 10am to 4-30pm, Cheung Chau Typhoon Shelter, Cheung Chau, Admission free
The Dragon Boat Festival (Chinese Duanwu Festival) is a lunar holiday, occurring on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and known locally by its Cantonese name Tuen Ng. This festival is a significant holiday celebrated in China and the one with the longest history. The name for the festival in China was originally the Upright Sun Festival but this was changed by foreigners to the Dragon Boat Festival, notably for the dragon boat races, held particularly in the southern provinces, Hong Kong and Macau where there are many rivers and lakes. This festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a popular poet and minister who is said to have committed suicide at the age of 35 by drowning himself in a river on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Qu Yuan was an honest and loyal minister who was held in high esteem in the kingdom of Chu (situated in the present day Hunan and Hubei provinces). When a corrupt prince vilified Qu Yuan, he was disgraced and dismissed from his office. Realising the kingdom was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu Yuan jumped into a river. Nearby fishermen tried to save him and were unable to recover the body. Mourning the death of the poet, the people threw cooked rice so the fish would eat the rice rather than their hero. The spirit of Qu Yuan appeared in the river and said that a huge reptile in the river had stolen the rice offering and suggested that they wrap the rice in silk and bind it with threads before throwing it in the river. This later turned into the custom of eating “Zong Zi” (boiled glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) and rice dumplings to symbolize offerings to Qu Yuan. The dragon boat races represent the attempts to rescue and recover the body of Qu Yuan.
The Dragon Boat Festival at Tai O on Lantau Island is also home to a waterway praying ceremony known as the “Gods Parade” which dates back over one hundred years. In June 2011 the festival became on of four cultural events in Hong Kong to be included on China's national list of intangible culture heritage. It is said that Tai O was hit by a plague more than 100 years ago and, in an effort to drive out the epidemic, local fishermen paraded along the local waterways on dragon boats, towing behind them deity statues that they had borrowed from temples in the area. The plague ended, but the custom, known as the dragon boat water parade, has been maintained to this day.
During the annual Dragon Boat Festival, three fishermen's associations, namely Pa Teng, Sin Yu Heung and Hap Sim Tong, organise a religious activity known as dragon boat water parade. On the morning before the festival, members of the associations row their dragon boats to visit four temples, Yeung Hau, Tin Hou, Kwan Tei and Hung Shing, and carry the deity statues back to their associations' hall for worship.
On the day of the festival, members of Pa Teng row the dragon boats to Po Chue Tam behind Yeung Hau Temple, where they pick fresh grass on the hillside to put inside the dragon's mouth in a ritual called "Picking the Greens". In the old days, a "Drinking Dragon" ceremony was also hosted by association elders to cast out evil spirits, during which a few drops of rooster blood were mixed with Chinese white wine and then sprinkled on the dragon's head, tail and body. However, this ceremony has not been performed since the Government introduced its ban on the keeping of live chickens.
The dragon boats then set out on the parade or "Gods' Parade". A small boat that carries the deity statues is towed by a dragon boat along the local waterways. Gold and silver paper offerings for departed souls are burned in the water along the way, while the residents of the stilt houses also burn joss sticks to pay tribute to the passing dragon boats. As entertainment for gods, the dragon boats engage in a race after the parade. In the afternoon, the associations host a send-off ritual in which the deities are transported back to the temples. Then everyone gathers at night for a feast to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival in what is always a jubilant event.
The "Gods Parade", is the most important part of the Dragon Boat Festival at Tai O. A small boat carrying the deity statues is towed by each dragon boat along the local waterways. Gold and silver paper offerings for departed souls are burned along the way, while the residents of the stilt houses also burn joss sticks to pay tribute to the passing dragon boats.
*For more information about Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships see;
HONG KONG DRAGON BOAT CARNIVAL 21st to 23rd JUNE 2013 (further details to be advised)
Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Carnival, which features the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races will again be held at Tsim Sha Tsui East Waterfront at Victoria Harbour following the success of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 carnivals. Between 2000 and 2009 the international races had been held on the Shing Mun River at Shatin but last year the organisers, Hong Kong Dragon Boat Association (HKDBA), along with Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) decided to raise the profile of the races and make the carnival a “mega event” and major tourist attraction. The six-day 2012 carnival, included the IDBF World Club Crew Championships, which are held in a different location each year was the 37th anniversary of the international races.
The annual regatta began in 1976 as a fishermen’s boat race involving nine local and one Japanese team and was the first international dragon boat race, setting standards which have subsequently been adopted in over 60 other countries and regions. Since its initiation the regatta has rapidly expanded with the 2011 races featuring 194 teams including 162 local teams and 32 international teams from 12 countries and regions including Australia, Canada, Mainland China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore and 6,000 paddlers including 1,000 overseas paddlers.
THE HONG KONG DRAGON BOAT CARNIVAL 2012;
The Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races took place on 2nd July 2012 between 9am and 5pm. There were teams from 12 countries/regions, including Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK and the USA. Races start near the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong and finish near Wing On Plaza. Racing was over a standard 500-metre course in ten categories.
The International Races were held in three categories;
- Open International Championship
- Women’s International Championship
- Mixed International Championship
The Local Races were held in seven categories;
- Sino Group Open Championship
- Lee Kum Kee Women’s Championship
- Hong Kong Disneyland Mixed Championship
- Ngong Ping 360 Inter-Company Championship
- Wanchai and Central & Western District Industries and Commerce Association Bank and Financial Institution Championship
- Professionals’ Championship
- Disciplinary Forces Championship
Dragon boats competing in front of the packed promenade at Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront in the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races on 2nd July 2012
Mr Philip Yung (forefront centre), Commissioner for Tourism, Tourism Commission, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, presents prizes to the winning teams – Thailand (champion), South Eagles Dragon Boat Association (first runner-up) and Mainland China Jiangmen Jun Jing Wan Da Bu Dragon Boat Team (中國江門駿景灣豪庭大埠龍舟隊) (second-runner up) – in the International Cup at the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races on 2nd July 2012
The Lee Kum Kee 8th IDBF Club Crew World Championships took place from 4th to 8th July 2012 between 9am and 5pm. The starting line was near the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong Hotel and the finishing line was close to Wing On Plaza. Participants included around 170 dragon boat club crews and over 4,000 paddlers from more than 20 countries and regions: Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Malaysia, Macau, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the USA. Races featured small and standard dragon boats in three racing classes (Open, Women’s and Mixed) over three distances;
2000 m (4 July 2012)
200 m (5 & 6 July 2012)
500 m (7 & 8 July 2012)
The races featured six race categories, including:
Senior A (aged 40 or above)
Senior B (aged 50 or above)
18-23 (aged 18-23)
Junior A (aged under 18)
Junior B (aged under 16)
There were also special races;
Combined Races - Breast Cancer Survivors, All Cancer Survivors Crews and Paradragons (Adaptive Paddlers Crews) raced in this division over 200 metres and 500 metres.
Lee Kum Kee Dragon Boat Invitational Cup
Approximately 600 free spectator seats were set along the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade. Some of the seats were reserved for invited guests on 8 July.
Presenting the medals to the winners of the largest-ever International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships on 8th July 2012 were Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Mr Gregory So (front row, second right), Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Mr James Tien (front row, second left), and representative of the International Dragon Boat Federation (front row, far left), who joined in group photo with winners in the Small Boat 500-metre Seniors A Women’s Championship – Manly Dragons Boat Club, Brisbane of Australia (champion), BGC Stormy Dragons of Hong Kong (first runner-up) and Neckardrachen, Heilbronn of Germany (second runner-up)
The San Miguel BeerFest was located at UC Centenary Garden, Tsim Sha Tsui East, and was open from 12 noon to 9-30pm on 2nd and 6th to 8th July 2012 with beer booths and food booths, games booths and stage performances. Admission was free and visitors were able to order beer and snacks while enjoying non-stop performances by singers, bands and DJs from Asia including Sodagreen, SugarClub, Guo Yi, Ma Nine Hsieh & Friends, ToNick as well as Kolorbeer drinking competitions, cosplay shows and other events.
Dragon Boat Exhibition - To promote the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, three McDull themed dragon boats were on display in Tsim Sha Tsui. Three statues were placed on one of the boats, so that both visitors and local residents could take photos and experience “paddling” in a dragon boat. Dates and venues were;
23 June to 5 July 2012 - Ocean Terminal Forecourt, Harbour City (3 boats). 10am to 10pm.
6 to 8 July 2012 - KidX, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui (near Star Ferry Pier) (1 boat). 10am to 10pm and Avenue of Stars (2 boats) 24 hours.
OTHER DRAGON BOAT RACES 2013;
Dragon boat races also take place on other dates around Tuen Ng and throughout the year;
5th MAY 2013 - LAMMA ISLAND, The Laracy and Co Lamma 500 Dragon Boat Festival 2013, Tai Wan To Beach (Power Station Beach), Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island, 8-30am to 6pm, Admission free
12th MAY 2013 - DEEP WATER BAY, 14th Deep Water Bay Regatta, Victoria Recreation Club, Island Road, Deep Water Bay. 8am to 5pm. Admission free.
19th MAY 2013 - KWAI TSING, 2013 Kwai Tsing District Dragon Boat Races, Tsing Yi Northeast Park Promenade, 9am to 4pm. Admission free.
26th MAY 2013 - TSEUN WAN, Tseun Wan District Dragon Boat Races 2013, Riviera Park Promenade (from waterfront area near Wharf Cable Tower to Southeast Industrial Building), 8am to 4-30pm. Admission free.
2nd JUNE 2013 - LANTAU ISLAND, Mui Wo Dragon Boat Race Open 2013, Silvermine Bay Beach, Mui Wo, Lantau Island, 8-45am to 4pm, Admission free
9th JUNE 2013 - CHAI WAN, Eastern District Dragon Boat Race, Chai Wan Cargo Handling Basin, 9am to 4pm, Admission free
30th JUNE 2013 - STANLEY, 11th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Short Course Races, Stanley Main Beach, 9am to 4pm. Admission free
30th JUNE 2013 - LANTAU ISLAND, Tai O SAR Establishment Cup Dragon Boat Race, Tai O Sheltered Boat Anchorage, Tai O, 9am to 3pm. Admission free.
28th and 29th SEPTEMBER 2013 - SHA TIN, 15th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Championship, Shing Mun River (near Banyan Bridge). Time TBA. Admission free.
6th OCTOBER 2013 - SHAU KEI WAN, King of the World International Dragon Boat Championship 2013, Aldrich Bay Promenade, 8am to 6pm. Admission free.