The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Tueng Ng Festival, is one of the favourites amongst the revelry of Chinese Festivals celebrated in the territory.
Taking place on the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month, normally in May or June in our calendar, this event goes as far back as the 3rd century and is most well-known for its energetic and colorful dragon boat races, where teams of paddlers race the long narrow boats accompanied by the beat of the drum down to the finish line.
According to one popular legend, the Dragon Boat Festival has its origins in the old man Qu Yuan, an official that was so dissilussioned with his country's government that he drowned himself in protest by jumping in the river.
The locals rushed to the site, paddling on their boats and banging drums, gongs and everything they could find to scare away anything that might harm Qu Yuan in hopes to find and rescue him but they were not succesful. They also brought offerings of rice to calm the old man's spirit.
The pilgrimage with the long boats, the drumming and the rice evolved into massive and colorful events and the dragon boat races and competitions that characterize the festival of today.
The Dragon Boat Festival is nowadays celebrated all over the world, for some a very entertaining and exciting festival, and for others, dragon boat racing is a fiercely competitive event.
And nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, which attracts hundreds of international teams and hosts a series of events and races throughout the summer months.
There are a couple of high profile events in Hong Kong:
- The Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships in Stanley Main Beach on the date of the Festival proper, normally in May or June, and
- The Dragon Boat Carnival or Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races a 3-day event and massive party right in Victoria Harbour, normally in June or July.
Best chances to see a dragon boat race are of course on the very day of the Dragon Boat Festival, it also happens to be a National Holiday in Hong Kong.
On this day, the many Dragon Boat Associations of the territory will hold races throughout Hong Kong.
As mentioned above, the Dragon Boat races in Stanley are some of the most remarkable and attract huge crowds.