The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival 2018

This Year's Dragon Boat Festival is on June 18, 2018
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

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.

Dragon Boat Festival Races in Stanley
Teams getting ready to compete at the Stanley Dragon Boat Festival Races

Dragon Boat Festival Races in Stanley
Crowds cheer the participants at the Stanley Races

Dragon Boat Festival Races in Aberdeen
Watching the races from one of Aberdeen's traditional sampans...

Dragon Boat Festival Parade in Tai O
The fishing village of Tai O celebrates with a grand parade through the stilt homes

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.

When and Where to See the Dragon Boat Races?

There are a couple of high profile events in Hong Kong:

Best chances to see a dragon boat race are of course on the very day of the Dragon Boat Festival, which as the Dragon Boat Festival in China, 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.

Dragon Boat Festival 2018

In 2018, the Dragon Boat Festival is on June 18, 2018.

These are some of the most popular sites for dragon boat races and are very easy and interesting places for visitors to get to. All events are free to the public:

map stanleyStanley map aberdeenAberdeen map saikungSaikung map cheung chauCheung Chau map tai oTai O map sha tinSha Tin map tai poTai Po map discovery bayDiscovery Bay (Races will be on Sunday June 17)

SunLife Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships

Stanley Dragon Boat Races

These are some of the largest and most prominent Dragon Boat Races in the world with some 200 local and international teams participating in the action-packed high caliber races which attract a crowd of over 30,000 spectators.

When?: June 18, 2018, 8:00 a.m. - approx. 5:00 p.m.
Where?: Stanley Main Beach
Here's more on Stanley and how to get there.

More Info: Stanley Dragon Boat Association

Here's a short video from the Stanley International Dragon Boat Races, enjoy!

Water Parade in Tai O's Dragon Boat Festival

Tai O Dragon Boat Races

Organised by the three local Fishermen Associations, the Tai O Dragon Boat Festival is quite unique.

The setting is marvelous in the middle of the traditional stilt houses, and the celebrations include a water parade in which the temple deities are carried in colorfully decorated sampans pulled naturally by dragon boats!

All along the way, the local residents burn incense and paper offerings to the deities in this most traditional of celebrations.

Following the parade, the dragon boat races are held to "entertain the gods" and the deities are returned to their temples.

When?: June 18, 2018 8:00 a.m. to approx. 2:00 p.m.
Where?: Tai O waterfront.
Here's more on the Tai O Fishing Village and how to get there.

More Info: www.tai-o.hk/ including parade route.

Aberdeen Dragon Boat Races

Aberdeen Dragon Boat Races

The charming Aberdeen Fishing Village is a great place for a day out and to enjoy the excitement of the Dragon Boat Races.

When?: June 18, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to approx. 6:00 p.m.

Where?: Aberdeen Promenade/Aberdeen West Typhoon Shelter. Here's more on Aberdeen and how to get there.

More Info: Check out their Facebook page for the latest news Aberdeen Dragon Boat on Facebook

Cheung Chau Dragon Boat Festival

Cheung Chau Dragon Boat Races

Tiny Cheung Chau island is always teeming with lively traditional festivities, including the wacky Cheung Chau Bun Festival in April/May, and the celebrations for the Dragon Boat Festival are no exception.

When?: June 18, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to approx. 4:00 p.m.

Where?:Cheung Chau Typhoon Shelter.

Getting to Cheung Chau: 40 or 60 minutes with ferries from Central Pier #5 approx. every 30 minutes. The fast ferry is an enclosed cabin, the standard or slow one is a much more scenic way to get there on the outside decks.

More Info: Cheung Chau Dragon Boat Club. Phone: 29814009

Cheung Chau is worth a visit, dragon boats, bun towers or not. Here's more on Cheung Chau and how to get there.

Saikung Dragon Boat Festival

Saikung Dragon Boat Races

The races are in the morning, in the afternoon there is a festival in town. Saikung is in the New Territories and offers a nice day out to sample some great fresh local seafood.

When?: June 18, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to approx. 1:30 p.m.

Where?: Saikung Town Waterfront.

More Info: www.skdragonboat.org

Sai Kung is a great and lively fishing village worth visiting festival or not with a bustling Promenade and colorful Floating Market. Here's more on Sai Kung and how to get there.

Sha Tin Dragon Boat Races

Sha Tin Dragon Boat Races

Sponsored by the Sha Tin Sports Association, the race attracts a vast number of participating teams and has become not only a major event in Sha Tin District, but also one of the largest dragon boat races in the territory.

When?: June 18, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to approx. 1:00 p.m.

Where?: Shing Mun River, (starting close to Banyan Bridge and ending close to Sha Yin Bridge) Sha Tin in the New Territories

More Info: Tel. 2691 5657

Tai Po Dragon Boat Races

Sha Tin Dragon Boat Races

Tai Po Village in the New Territories offers a nice day out enjoying many cultural traditions. You can combine the races with a visit to the Man Mo Temple and the colorful local market.

When?: June 18, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to approx. 1:00 p.m.

Where?: Promenade at Tai Po Waterfront Park in the New Territories

More Info: Tel. 2664 8661

An Englsih-speaking Cultural Tour to Tai Po and Dragon Boat Races is offered during the Dragon Boat Festival

Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Races

Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Races

The Dragon Boat Races and spectacular on-stage shows which in the past have featured the fabulous cheerleading performance by Hong Kong Disneyland take place at Tai Pak Beach.

Besides the exciting races, there are lots of fun-filled activities for the family: an inflatable water slide, balloon twisting and a giant bubble show.

When?: RACES ARE ON SUNDAY JUNE 17, 8:30 a.m. to approx. 3:30 p.m. Fun activities from 10:00 a.m. to approx. 6:00 p.m.

Where?: Tai Pak Beach, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island.

How Much?: Free admission

More Info: Discovery Bay Facebook Page

More Dragon Boat Races, Championships and Tournaments

Dragon Boat Racing is a major serious sport in Hong Kong. Chances of catching a race or a training session at the very least, is excellent in the summer months.

If you happen to miss the Dragon Boat Festival, there is another major racing event, the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races, which takes place right on Victoria Harbour, it's a 3-day weekend jam-packed with hot dragon boat action. This year they will be right after the Dragon Boat Festival on June 22 - 24, 2018.

There is also a number of races throughout the year, short races, warm up races, etc. that are equally fun to watch specially if you have never experienced this sport.

Here's more on the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races in Victoria Harbour and other popular races throughout the year.

2018 Dragon Boat Festival Tours

Stanley Dragon Boat Races Aboard the Aqua Luna

Stanley Dragon Boat Races

When and Where? TBA Meets at 11:00am at Central Pier 9, 11:15am at TST Pier 2
A buffet lunch will be served onboard, then enjoy the Dragon Boat races at Stanley
Returns 6:00pm - 6:15pm
How Much? Adult US$83, Child (4-11) US$56
›› More Info and Booking: Stanley Dragon Boat Races Aboard the Aqua Luna

Dragon Boat Races at Tai Po and Cultural Tour By Coach

Tai Po Dragon Boat Races

What?Cultural tour of Tai Po Village including the Man Mo Temple and Market and Dragon Boat Races

When and Where? Pick up at hotels starts 7:50 - 8:40 am
Duration approx. 5 hours transfer back to hotels
How Much? Adult US$103, Child (3-11) US$91
›› More Info and Booking: Dragon Boat Races at Tai Po and Cultural Tour By Coach

Dragon Boat Festival Races in Aberdeen

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