The Dragon Boat Festival – also known as Duan Wu (in Putonghua) or Tuen Ng (in Cantonese) – is not only one of the most traditional, but also one of the most exciting events in Hong Kong. Occurring on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Lunar Calendar, the Tuen Ng (Duan Wu) festival is a significant lunar holiday and public holiday in Hong Kong. This year, the Tuen Ng (Duan Wu) festival will take place on June 12, 2013.

The Dragon Boat Festival has one of the longest histories and there are several versions about the origin of this important Chinese festival. The most common story is the one about Qu Yuan (a Chinese National Hero) who was a popular poet and minister during the ancient state of Chu (nowadays Hunan and Hubei Provinces) about 2000 years ago. The king decided to form allies with the powerful state of Qin. Evil and corrupt officials launched several intrigues and Qu Yuan was not only betrayed, accused of treason and dismissed from his office, but also sent to exile. Being an honest and loyal minister to his king, he realized that his beloved kingdom was in the hands of the wrong people. Realizing his powerlessness Qu Yuan decided to jump into Mi Luo River and committed suicide as a protest against the corrupt rulers on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Nearby fishermen paddled out on their boats and tried to save him, but were unable to recover his body. In order to keep the fish from eating his body, legend has it that townspeople threw cooked rice dumplings (Zongzi) into the river and beat drums to scare the fish away. To commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, the Dragon Boat Festival was born.

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Traditionally, Hong Kong people will celebrate this special day by eating Zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with different fillings such as pork, preserved egg yolk, sugar or red bean paste), drinking realgar wine, watching and enjoying the spectacular Dragon Boat Races.

Zongzi Store with different options

Zongzi Store with different options

Visitors and Dragon Boat Race Lovers have a large selection of Dragon Boat Races at the traditional Tuen Ng Festival on Wednesday June 12th, 2013. Several locations around Hong Kong offer exciting and spectacular Dragon Boat Races and the best part of it: admission is free! Below we list details of the upcoming of Dragon Boat Races:

 

Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships (Highly Recommended)

The Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships is Hong Kong’s largest Tuen Ng Festival Dragon Boat Race. Last year, 250 teams and 5,000 paddlers from around the world took part at the Tuen Ng Dragon Boat Races at Stanley Main Beach. More than 30,000 visitors cheer and enjoy the dramatic and spectacular Dragon Boat Races and transform Stanley Beach into big beach party with a carnival-like atmosphere. Take a look at the following article of previous years for more information and impressions about the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships.

Dragon Boat Race-Avatar Team:Panda Team:Golden Wig Team

Dragon Boat Race-Avatar Team:Panda Team:Golden Wig Team

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Venue: Stanley Main Beach
Narration: Cantonese and English

How to Get There:

Take MTR to Hong Kong station and exit through Exit E2. Transfer to Bus 6, 6X or 260 at Central’s Exchange Square to Stanley. Alternatively you can take bus 973 from Tsim Sha Tsui (Mody Road) to Stanley.

 

Tai O Water Parade and Dragon Boat Competition (Highly Recommended)

The Tai O Water Parade and Dragon Boat Competition is one of the four cultural events in Hong Kong, which has been placed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China. Tai O’s three fishermen associations (Pa Teng Hong, Sin Yu Hong and Hop Sum Tong) co-jointly organize this traditional “Water Parade”. On the morning before the festival, members of these associations will travel with their dragon boats to the four temples Yeung Hau (Marquis Prince) Temple, Tin Hau (Empress of Heaven) Temple, Kwan Tai (God of War) Temple and Hung Shing (God of the Sea) Temple to get the deity statutes out and place them at the temporary activity venue. On the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, three dragon boats tow small boats loaded with the deity statues through the various water channels of Tai O which is also known as the “Deities’ or Gods’ Parade”. Along the way “fa yi” – a kind of offering burning – is performed to ask for blessing of the deities as well as to pacify the wandering water ghosts. While the dragon boats pass by the traditional Chinese stilt-houses, residents will pray, burn paper offerings and incense. After the parade, the dragon boat races are on not only to entertain and calm down the gods, but also to entertain locals and visitors alike. In the afternoon, the deities’ statutes will be taken back to their temples and each association holds its own banquet to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. The Tai O Water Parade and Dragon Boat Competition is one of the best events to experience Hong Kong’s culture, dragon boat races as well as Tai O’s old heritage and their Chinese stilt house community.

Kwan Tai Temple in Tai O

Kwan Tai Temple in Tai O

Tin Hau Temple in Tai O

Tin Hau Temple in Tai O

Date: June 11-12, 2013
Time: 9:00am- 2:00pm
Venue: Tai O Creek and Pier, Lantau Island (Tai O Dragon Boat Parade)
Tai O Promenade, Lantau Island (Tai O Dragon Boat Race)
Narration: Cantonese

How to Get There:

Take MTR to Tung Chung station and exit through Exit B. Then take New Lantau Bus No. 11 or taxi to Tai O. Alternatively, you can take the ferry from CentralPier 6 to Mui Wo and transfer then to New Lantau Bus No. 1 to Tai O.

Insider Tips: The Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships as well as the Tai O Water Parade and Dragon Boat Competition are both very popular among locals and visitors. Be prepared that the venues will be very crowded. In addition, plan enough time to travel to and from the venues since both locations are not in the downtown area.

 

Aberdeen – Aberdeen Dragon Boat Race 2013

The annual Aberdeen Dragon Boat Races feature one of the most traditional dragon boat races in Hong Kong. Aside from enjoying and watching the spectacular dragon boat races, visitors can experience and explore a cultural exhibition organized by the dragon boat race committee as well as manifold Chinese handicraft and snack booths set-up along the Aberdeen promenade.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Venue: Aberdeen Promenade, Aberdeen Praya Road
Narration: Cantonese, Mandarin and English

How to Get There:

Take MTR to Hong Kong station and exit through Exit E2. Transfer to Bus 70 from Central Exchange Square to Aberdeen Promenade.

Note: The famous Hong Kong Theme Park “Ocean Park Hong Kong” is close to the Aberdeen Promenade with an approx. 15-20min taxi ride.

 

Sha Tin – Sha Tin Dragon Boat Race 2013

The Sha Tin Dragon Boat Races are held for over 25 years now and is one of the popular races in Hong Kong. In case you don’t have time to travel to Tai O or Cheung Chau, the Dragon Boat Races at Sha Tin are a good option to join the locals and enjoy the Tuen Ng Festival activities.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 8:00am – 1:00pm
Venue: Shing Mun River, Sha Tin
(starting place is close to Banyan Bridge and the ending close to Sha Yin Bridge)
Narration: Cantonese

How to Get There:

Take MTR to Sha Tin station and exit through Exit A. Walk through the New Town Plaza Shopping Mall to Sha Tin Park and forward to the riverside (it’s about 10min walk).

 

Sai Kung – Sai Kung Dragon Boat Race Festival 2013

Experience the dramatic dragon boat races at the Sai Kung Dragon Boat Races 2013. Over 100 teams will participate in this year event. Be sure to stay after the dragon boat races are over. Sai Kung has a special Dragon Boat Carnival with game stalls and both to be enjoyed by young and old.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 8:00am – 2:00pm (races)
2:00pm – 5:00pm (carnival)
Venue: Sai Kung Waterfront Promenade, Sai Kung
(near Sai Kung Pier)
Narration: Cantonese, Mandarin and English

How to Get There:

Take MTR to Hang Hau station and exit through Exit B1. Transfer to Green Minibus No. 101M to Sai Kung Town Terminus. Alternatively, you can take the MTR to Choi Hung Station and exit through Exit C2. Transfer to Green Minibus No. 1A to Sai Kung Town Terminus.

 

Tai Po – Tai Po District Dragon Boat Race 2013

Over 50 teams are participating in the Tai Po District Dragon Boat Race 2013. This dragon boat race has a long history and is one of the major events in the Tai Po District.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 8:30am – 1:00pm
Venue: Promenade at Tai Po Waterfront Park, Tai Po
Narration: Cantonese

How to Get There:

Take the MTR to Tai Wai Station and exit trhough Exit B. Transfer to bus 72A and alight at Tai Po Industrial Estate Dai Cheong Street. From there hop in one of the free shuttle buses.

 

Tuen Mun – Tuen Mun District Dragon Boat Race 2013

At present, it is expected that over 90 dragon boat teams will participate in the Tuen Mun District Dragon Boat Races 2013.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Venue: Castle Peak Bay Typhoon Shelter, Area 44, Tuen Mun
Narration: Cantonese

How to Get There:

Take the MTR to Siu Hong and hop in one of the Light Rail (LRT = Light Rail Transit) 614, 614P or 507 to Siu Hei Station. Alternatively, you can take the MTR to Mongkok East Station and transfer to bus no. 59X to Tuen Mun Ferry Pier and then walk 10 minutes to the dragon boat race venue.

 

Discovery Bay – Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Race 2013

Join exciting and spectacular races at the Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Races 2013. The 24th Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Races & Carnival will feature a total of 59 teams this year who will compete in this exciting event. Similar to the Sai Kung Dragon Boat event, the Discovery Bay Dragon Boat event also hold a special Dragon Boat Carnival at the Discovery Bay Piazza with over 60 booths selling food, homemade goods and interactive games as well as stage performances such as hip hop lion dance, fire dance and award winning performances bythe Hong Kong Disneyland Cheerleading Team.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 8:00am – 4:30pm (races)
11:00am – 6:00pm (carnival)
Venue: Races: Tai Pak Beach, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island
Carnival: DB Piazza, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island
Narration: Cantonese and English

How to Get There:

Take ferry from Central Pier 3 in Central (Hong Kong Island) to Discovery Bay. Alternatively, you can take the MTR to Tung Chung Station exit through Exit B and transfer to bus DB01R to Discovery Bay or take MTR to Sunny Bay, exit through Exit A and transfer to bus DB03R to Discovery Bay.

 

Cheung Chau – Cheung Chau Tuen Ng Dragon Boat Race 2013

Cheung Chau is one of the small islands of Hong Kong and well-known for its famous Bun Festival. However, Cheung Chau Island is also a great place to watch and enjoy the traditional dragon boat races at the Tuen Ng Festival.

Date: June 12, 2013
Time: 10:00am – 4:30pm
Venue: Cheung Chau Typhoon Shelter (near Chueng Chau Pak She Praya Road), Cheung Chau
Narration: Cantonese

How to Get There:

Take Ferry from Central Pier 5 directly to Cheung Chau Island.

 

Additional Dragon Boat Race Events in June 2013:

June 2 Mui Wo Dragon Boat Races 2013, Silvermine Bay Beach, Mui Wo, Lantau Island

(8am to 5pm, narration: Cantonese, take ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo or alternatively MTR to Tung Chung Station, exit through Exit B and transfer to Bus 3M).

Tai Tam Tuk Dragon Boat Races 2013, Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, Hong Kong Island

(9am to 4pm, narration: Cantonese, take MTR to Sai Wan Ho, exit through Exit A and transfer to bus 14 to Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir or alternatively take MTR to Chai Wan Station, exit through Exit D and take mini bus 16 X or 16M).

June 8 South Lamma Dragon Boat Races 2013 cum Luk Chau Wan Tin Hau Festival, Luk Chau Wan, Lamma Island

(10am to 3pm, narration: Cantonese, from Exchange Square in Central take bus 70 to Aberdeen. Then transfer to boat to Luk Chau Wan at Aberdeen Promenade)

June 9 Eastern District Dragon Boat Race 2013 (in celebration of HKSAR 16th Anniversary), Chai Wan Cargo Handling Basin

June 21-23 Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races (please read our related article for more information)

June 30 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Sprint, Stanley Main Beach

June 30 Tai O Dragon Boat Classics, Tai O Sheltered Boat Anchorage, Tai O, Lantau Island

(9am to 3pm, narration: Cantonese)

July 1 Sok Kwu Wan Dragon Boat Races (Lamma Island), Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island

(9am to 5:30pm, narration: Cantonese, take ferry from Central Pier 4 to Sok Kwu Wan)