KUALA LUMPUR – The Dragon Boat Festival is a major celebration in the Lunar calendar. In recent years, dragon boat racing has also been gaining popularity worldwide as a sport. Being the birthplace of modern dragon boat racing and a city boasting a rich festive culture, Hong Kong celebrates the festival with a series of competitive races and cultural activities. For a total experience combining the sport and the tradition, look no further than the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, an annual event organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and co-organised by the Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association (HKCDBA), which is taking place for the 10th time this June with an action-packed programme.
An international sport descended from a centuries-old tradition
The dragon boat, a long canoe carved with a decorative dragon head and tail and painted with totems, embodies the venerable creature in Chinese mythology. HKCDBA Chairman Mr Arnold Chung Chi Lok elaborated: “Traditionally, dragon boats and paddles are made from teak and camphorwood and there are three different boat sizes. Today in international races, the stronger fiberglass is used, and the boats are standardised in size.”
While dragon boat racing is practiced throughout the world year-round nowadays, Hong Kong is the world’s first to organise invitation races, and has been hosting a major carnival since 2010 to promote the sport. Like Mr. Chung said: “Hong Kong is the veritable home of dragon boat racing!”
Herald the summer with the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival Dragon
Dragon Boat Festival celebrations in Hong Kong are heated. In addition to well-known races in Stanley, Shatin and Aberdeen on 7 June, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival will push the festivities to the summit in the weekend that follows (14 to 16 June).
One can expect to witness vigorous battles among some of the world’s strongest dragon boat teams at the three-day carnival. Previously a Hong Kong dragon boat team member and coach, Mr. Chung said that it is no easy feat to paddle in Victoria Harbour: “The deep, wavy water poses a great challenge. That said the atmosphere is wonderful, especially when you see spectators lining the harbourfront to cheer on the teams.”
Conventional races aside, there will be a “Fancy Dress Competition”, while a fun-filled playground with a man-made beach, a “Splash Area”, the Street Food Gala, the newly introduced Artisanal Market and more will be set up at the Central Harbourfront – and entrance is free for all!
Complete the experience with rice dumplings
The Dragon Boat Festival is incomplete without the festive food – glutinous rice dumplings – which is also a local delicacy. Theresa Mak, cook, food writer and top apprentice of Cantonese cuisine authority Pearl Kong Chen, makes dumplings at home every Dragon Boat Festival. She recalled: “In the 1940s and 50s, people were eating small, almost bite-size savoury dumplings made of glutinous rice, mung beans and braised pork belly.”
Today, the bigger, leaf-wrapped steamed rice dumplings which contain a greater variety of ingredients, from salted egg yolk to roast duck, roast pork, dried scallops, Jinhua ham and shiitake mushrooms, can easily feed two to three people.
Mak added: “Another choice is the sweet lye water dumpling, made with yellow tinted sticky rice and a lotus paste filling.” Visitors should also try other regional variations available in Hong Kong, such as Zhongshan’s reed-wrapped rice dumplings and the famous Shanghainese rice dumplings from Jiaxing and Huzhou.
For further details on the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival and other festive activities, please visit: