Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival: 10 Thrilling Activities to Experience

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a vibrant and exhilarating celebration that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. This ancient festival, which has been observed for over 2,000 years, is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and history. It honors the patriotic poet Qu Yuan and is characterized by a variety of thrilling activities that bring communities together in joyous celebration. In this article, we will explore ten thrilling activities that you can experience during the Festival.

Dragon Boat Festival: Racing

One of the most iconic and exciting activities during the Dragon Boat Festival is the dragon boat racing. Teams of rowers paddle in unison to the beat of a drum, racing long, narrow boats adorned with colorful dragon heads and tails. This high-energy sport is not only a test of speed and endurance but also of teamwork and coordination. The races are a spectacle to behold, drawing large crowds who cheer enthusiastically for their favorite teams. Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, dragon boat racing is a thrilling experience that captures the spirit of the festival.

Dragon Boat Festival: Eating Zongzi

Zongzi, a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice stuffed with various fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves, is a must-have during the Dragon Boat Festival. These pyramid-shaped delicacies can be sweet or savory, with fillings ranging from red bean paste and jujubes to pork and salted egg yolks. Eating zongzi is not only a delicious way to celebrate but also a way to honor the memory of Qu Yuan, who is said to have drowned himself in protest against corruption. Legend has it that the locals threw zongzi into the river to prevent fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body. Today, making and eating zongzi is a cherished tradition that adds a tasty dimension to the festival.

Dragon Boat Festival: Making and Wearing Perfume Pouches

Perfume pouches, also known as sachets, are small bags filled with aromatic herbs and spices. During the Dragon Boat Festival, it is customary to make and wear these pouches as a form of protection against evil spirits and disease. The practice dates back to ancient times when people believed that the strong scents could ward off harmful influences. Today, making perfume pouches is a fun and creative activity that families and friends can enjoy together. These pouches are often beautifully embroidered and can be worn around the neck or hung in homes as decorative items.

Hanging Mugwort and Calamus

Another traditional activity during the Boat Festival is hanging bundles of mugwort and calamus in homes. These plants are believed to have protective properties and are used to ward off evil spirits and insects. Mugwort, in particular, is known for its strong aroma and medicinal benefits. Hanging these plants in doorways and windows is a way to ensure good health and safety during the festival. This practice not only adds a touch of greenery to homes but also connects people with nature and ancient traditions.

Drinking Realgar Wine

Realgar wine, a type of Chinese alcoholic beverage, is traditionally consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival. This potent drink is made by mixing realgar, a mineral containing arsenic, with rice wine. In ancient times, it was believed that drinking realgar wine could expel toxins and ward off evil spirits. Although modern medicine has debunked these beliefs, drinking realgar wine remains a popular tradition. For many, it is a way to connect with the festival’s rich history and folklore. However, due to its toxicity, realgar wine is often replaced with safer alternatives, such as yellow rice wine, in contemporary celebrations.

Participating in Folk Dances

Folk dances are an integral part of the Dragon Boat Festival, offering a lively and colorful way to celebrate. These dances, which vary from region to region, often involve intricate choreography and vibrant costumes. One popular dance is the dragon dance, where performers manipulate a long, flexible dragon puppet through a series of dynamic movements. Another is the lion dance, characterized by performers dressed in lion costumes mimicking the animal’s movements. Participating in or watching these folk dances is a thrilling experience that showcases the cultural diversity and artistic talent of the communities.

Watching Fireworks Displays

Fireworks are a spectacular highlight of the Festival, lighting up the night sky with brilliant colors and patterns. These displays are not only visually stunning but also carry symbolic meanings. The loud noises and bright lights are believed to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck. Many cities and towns organize large-scale fireworks shows that attract thousands of spectators. Watching fireworks with family and friends is a magical way to end the day’s festivities, leaving everyone in awe of the dazzling display.

Dragon Boat Festival Parades

Parades are a common feature of the Festival, with processions that showcase the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the event. These parades often include dragon and lion dancers, musicians playing traditional instruments, and people dressed in historical costumes. Floats decorated with dragons and other festival symbols add to the spectacle. Attending a Festival parade is an exciting way to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and witness the community’s creativity and spirit.

Competing in Athletic Events

In addition to dragon boat racing, the Dragon Boat Festival includes various athletic events that test strength, agility, and endurance. Tug-of-war, swimming competitions, and martial arts demonstrations are among the popular activities. These events not only provide entertainment but also promote physical fitness and camaraderie among participants. Competing in or cheering for these athletic events is a thrilling way to engage with the festival’s energetic and competitive spirit.

Exploring Cultural Exhibits and Markets

Many cities and towns host cultural exhibits and markets during the Dragon Boat Festival, offering a glimpse into the festival’s history and traditions. These exhibits often feature artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that educate visitors about the origins and significance of the festival. Markets, on the other hand, are bustling with vendors selling traditional crafts, foods, and souvenirs. Exploring these cultural exhibits and markets is a great way to deepen your understanding of the Boat Festival and take home a piece of its rich heritage.


The Dragon Boat Festival is a time of vibrant celebration, rich traditions, and thrilling activities. From the excitement of dragon boat racing to the joy of eating zongzi, each activity offers a unique way to experience the festival’s spirit. Whether you’re participating in a parade, making perfume pouches, or watching a fireworks display, the Festival provides countless opportunities for fun and cultural immersion. By engaging in these ten thrilling activities, you can create lasting memories and connect with the ancient traditions that have shaped this beloved festival.


Q1. What is the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival?

The Festival originated in ancient China over 2,000 years ago to honor the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. The festival commemorates his sacrifice and has evolved to include various cultural and traditional activities.

Q2. Why are dragon boat races held during the Festival?

Dragon boat races are held to symbolize the search for Qu Yuan’s body and to commemorate his legacy. The races also represent the strength, unity, and teamwork of the community.

Q3. What are the traditional foods eaten during the Festival?

Traditional foods include zongzi, a type of glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves, and realgar wine. These foods are deeply connected to the festival’s history and customs.

Q4. How is the Festival celebrated in different regions?

While the core traditions of dragon boat racing and eating zongzi are common, different regions have their unique ways of celebrating. These can include various folk dances, parades, and local customs.

Q5. What is the significance of the Boat Festival today?

Today, the Boat Festival is a celebration of cultural heritage, community spirit, and historical remembrance. It brings people together to honor ancient traditions while enjoying various modern festivities.


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