Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism

Dragon Boat Racing

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month. The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional folk festival where Chinese people practice a variety of customs including eating zong zi, hanging Chinese mugwort, drinking realgar wine and racing dragon boats. It has been celebrated for more than 2,000 years, and dragon-boat racing is considered to be the most important activity during the festival, especially in southern China where there are many rivers and lakes. The festival is also celebrated in Japan, Vietnam, and Britain as well as China's Taiwan and Hong Kong.


It is said that Dragon boat racing originated from the commemoration of Qu Yuan (343 BC–278 BC), a patriotic poet and a loyal official during the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC), who committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. People admired the great patriotic poet and decided to commemorate him on the 5th day of 5th Chinese lunar month, the day he died. Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of the festival, symbolizing the attempts to rescue and recover Qu Yuan's body.


Xixi National Wetland Park, located at Tianmushan Road, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, is the place where the annual “Hangzhou Xixi International Dragon Boat Race” is held. A typical dragon boat ranges from 20 to 35 meters in length, is shaped in the form of a Chinese dragon, and can accommodate 30 to 60 participants seated side by side. Dragon boat racing is a sport which emphasizes the importance of team work and the spirit of competition. When the gun is fired, all the rowers will pull their oars harmoniously and rapidly, speeding towards the finish line, the beating drums serving as an auditory accompaniment. It is said that the winning team will have good luck and a happy life in the following year. Nowadays, the Xixi Wetland Dragon Boat Cultural Festival, enhanced by unique charisma of local customs, has become a much anticipated event for Hangzhou citizens.


With two thousand years' worth of tradition, dragon boat racing has become an important competitive sport to pass on the spirit of the dragon. In 2006, it was officially listed in the first batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritages List and in 2009, it was added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.