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Must-do activities to enjoy the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong

Dragon boats in Victoria Harbour

When summer approaches, so does the annual Dragon Boat Festival! Celebrated every year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar in Hong Kong, this ancient festival has evolved to include international dragon boat races alongside traditional rituals and modern festivities. Brace yourself for an exhilarating adventure as you dive into the scorching heat of the diverse range of activities to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival!

A dragon boat race along the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui East in Victoria Harbour.

Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races

As the birthplace of modern dragon boat racing, Hong Kong hosts thrilling dragon boat races throughout the city during the festival. Among them, the most notable one is the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races.

The Races have been held since 1976, making it the most historical modern dragon boat race event and one of the highest professional levels in the world. Over a hundred elite teams from around the world including Hong Kong and Mainland China compete along the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui East in Victoria Harbour as spectators revel in the electrifying atmosphere.

Stay tuned for more details to fully immerse yourself in the festivities.

Event Details
Event Details

Dates: 15 – 16 June 2024 (Saturday to Sunday)
Time: 8am – 5:30pm 
*The time is subject to change without prior notice 
Location: Off Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade
Fee: Free admission

A dragon boat race took place in Aberdeen.

More locations for spectating dragon boat races

In addition to the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races, there are often smaller competitions held in other neighbourhoods, including the scenic seaside of Stanley; the home of local fishermen in Aberdeen; the serene Shing Mun River in Sha Tin; and other locations like Chai Wan, Cheung Chau, Kwun Tong, Sai Kung, Tai Po, and Tuen Mun. Each race marries the unique characteristics of its neighbourhood, providing the opportunity to find some hidden gems across Hong Kong.  

The iconic double-leafed Tai Chung bridge lifted to allow passage of the procession of the Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade.

Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city at the far end of Lantau Island, lies Tai O, a historic fishing village nicknamed the ‘Venice of the East’. Here, the age-old religious tradition of the Dragon Boat Festival endures through an annual Dragon Boat Water Parade, which was recognised as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011.

On the morning before the festival, members of three fishermen's associations in Tai O row their dragon boats to four temples in Tai O. There, they receive statues of the deities Yeung Hou, Tin Hau, Kwan Tei and Hung Shing, which they carry back to their association halls for worship. On the day of the festival, the statues are put on sacred sampans, which are then towed by the associations’ dragon boats to parade through the waters of Tai O. After the ritual, the statues are returned to their respective temples. 

Zongzi wrapped in in bamboo leaves

A bite of tradition: zongzi

Indulge in the flavours of the Dragon Boat Festival by savouring its indispensable delicacy: zongzi, also known as glutinous rice dumplings. Alongside watching the dragon boat races, enjoying zongzi is an essential and cherished tradition during the festival. Today, zongzi comes with a variety of fillings to suit all tastes and is traditionally wrapped in bamboo leaves, then steamed or boiled before eating. In Hong Kong, the Cantonese style of zongzi is most common and comes with a rich, decadent filling of marinated pork belly or duck, shiitake mushrooms, dried scallops and salted egg yolk, taking your taste buds on a gastronomic adventure to savour the cultural essence of the festival.

Learn more about the story of zongzi and find which suits you best here!

Eating zongzi and preparing scented sachet are some of the traditional customs during Dragon Boat Festival.

Craft your own festive scented sachet

Experience the atmosphere of the Dragon Boat Festival through your sense of smell with scented sachets. In addition to the traditional customs of the event, there is also the tradition of making scented sachets. These fragrant bags of perfume are gifted to elders as a sign of filial piety, to friends and family as a gesture of blessings, and to children as a wish for well-being and growth. While the weather is hot during the festival, making a sachet also conveys the wish of good health and good luck.

Interested in learning more about the origin, traditions and festivities of the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong? Check out this guide

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