Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival: When and Where to See It
Tuen Ng Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival, is a glorious time, always around the summer solstice, when the waterways around Hong Kong come to life with dragon boats competing against each other alongside a myriad of decorated junks and other watercraft.
The Origin of Tuen Ng Festival
The Tuen Ng Festival is originated from the myth of Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was a poet and high-ranking official of the Warring States Period who was exiled from his state by a king. When he learned that enemies had conquered his country's capital, he drowned himself out of sorrow. It is said that villagers went out in the river with boats and drums to try to rescue his body. They threw sticky rice dumplings (zongzi) into the water to prevent fish from eating his corpse, Qu Yuan's body was never found. The date of Qu Yuan’s suicide was the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and the same day that the Tuen Ng Festival is celebrated.
The dragon boats are built in the shape of massive war canoes. They vary in size and can have crews from 12 to 50 people, which often now include teams of women. The crew paddles synchronize to the rhythm of the beats of the drummer who sits in the head of the boat.
The holiday marks the celebration of the Goddess of Heaven who takes care of fishermen. It is also assumed that the goddess will also take care of the dragon boat racers.
Places to Watch Dragon Boat Racing
There are usually several dragon boat races during Tuen Ng. These sometimes change locations from one year to the next, but Victoria Harbour, Stanley Village, and Tai Po are the more popular and consistent locations. If you follow the festival, you can take in some of the best Hong Kong sights too.
One of the largest races Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races in Victoria Harbour. 4,000 athletes from countries and regions around the world compete in this race. Dragon boat racing happens all across the city’s waters.
Stanley Main Beach
Another major race of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships at Stanley Main Beach. Each year, over 200 teams of local and international clubs and organizations take part in the regatta.
Shing Mun River, Sha Tin
Sha Tin in the New Territories offers a nice day out enjoying many cultural traditions. You can spend the day at the races and end with visiting nearby temples and museums.
Other local races take place in Aberdeen, Sai Kung, Sha Tin, Cheung Chau, Discovery Bay, and Tai O.
Traditional Dragon Boat Festival Food
Don’t miss out on Dragon Boat Festival food. Delicious food is always top of the bill in Hong Kong and Tuen Ng is no exception with the popular rice dumplings, zongzi, being sold at food stalls around Hong Kong.
A traditional custom, sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves usually made of glutinous rice and meat.
A wheat flour food in the shape of a fan made up of five different colored layers pinched into a beautiful variety of patterns.
A sweet fried wheat and rice flour round cake. Legend has it that eating Jiandui help mend the holes in the sky so that it doesn't rain during the festival.
The shells of the delicious boiled eggs are dyed red, put into colorful net bags, and hung around children's necks, which is believed to bring them good luck.
The Dragon Boat Festival is a special Hong Kong holiday that is unforgettable for visitors. Stay with Hotel ICON to enjoy the festival and experience this Hong Kong tradition with us.
Delicious food is always top of the bill in Hong Kong and Tuen Ng is no exception with the popular rice dumplings, zongzi being sold at food stalls around Hong Kong.
For more information or to cheer on Hotel ICON’s team visit: https://publicholidays.hk/tuen-ng-festival/