One of the world's major concentrations of dragon boat races and other Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat in Cantonese) activities is held annually in Hong Kong during the Tuen Ng Festival. This year, the festivities are between about June 19 and July 5, 2015.
Dragon boat races are held in about ten sites in the Hong Kong region during this time. Thousands of competitors and tens of thousands of their supporters go out on various race days. Tourists can watch these races and various festivities, parades, and entertainments.
The Tuen Ng Festival (端午节 Duānwǔ Jié) or Dragon Boat Festival (龙舟节 Lóngzhōu Jié) is on June 20 in 2015. It falls on different dates each year depending on the lunar calendar. It is traditional to have dragon boat races on this day, but dragon boat racing has evolved into an international sport, and Hong Kong has become a main venue for international racing competitions. The main international races are on July 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
Dragon boats: These long canoes mimic the old war canoes of the past. The crews paddle to the beat of a drummer who sits in front. Various heats and competitions are held around the region, and canoes vary in size from 20 to 80 people.
Races and heats: Some races are small and meant only for those in a particular island or village. Two competitions, the Stanley races on the 20th of June and the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of July, are big international televised events.
This year on Saturday, June 20, a major race is scheduled for the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships at the town of Stanley. It is the second biggest of the dragon boat races in Hong Kong and is meant mainly for local competition between about 200 teams representing companies, bars, schools, and various organizations. The races include both expats and locals and teams of men and women contestants.
The races conform to international rules. The races are exciting for both contestants and spectators, but the contestants have the most fun. They dress up in team uniforms and run in heats. The boats have teams of twenty paddlers. One person sits in the back steering, and one person sits in the front beating the stroke rhythm on the drum.
In recent years, these races have become a festive and exciting sporting event for the thousands of contestants and spectators. It has become a tradition for the spectators to party on the beach as they watch the races. There is a lot of cheering. In the last few years, the races have appeared on world networks.
Place and time: Saturday June 20, 2015, 8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m at Stanley Main Beach, Hong Kong Island.
Along with the big Stanley Beach race day, there are also smaller competitions at about 8 other locations including Aberdeen, Sai Kung, Sha Tin, Cheung Chau, Discovery Bay and Tai O. Most of these are on June 20, though Tai O, Discovery Bay, and some others have races on June 1 or other days. These are generally local competitions for people living in the particular town or island. These races are usually combined with other traditional Chinese festivities such as parades or carnivals.
These race sites are scenic and interesting in their own right as tourist highlights. Aberdeen is known for its floating seafood restaurants, Sai Kung for natural beauty and hiking, Cheung Chau for Chinese restaurants and atmosphere, Discovery Bay for its beach and expat hideaway, and Tai O for its old architecture, quaint stilt village, and dolphins. So you have lots of choices for watching a dragon boat race, and you might want to go to the one for the setting and experience that interests you.
The biggest of all the dragon boat races in Hong Kong happens a few days after the festival events at Victoria Harbor. It is here that champion teams from competitions around the world gather for a three day international racing event with a lot of heats. It is called the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races. There are thousands of contestants, and as many as thirty thousand fans and supporters might watch along the shoreline at East Tsim Sha Tsui.
Free music and live entertainment helps to entertain the crowd. There are clowns and a marching band. The wondrous scenery of Victoria Harbor adds to a good time. The event is staged along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade near the Avenue of Stars, and the attractions include the Harbour City Mall, several museums, and the Victoria Ferry. The tall skyscrapers and Victoria Peak provides scenery that is both beautiful and impressive.
The best local teams from the various district races compete at this event and match their strokes against the international teams. There are also teams representing universities, police, government organizations, and other groups.
The races are scheduled to start on Friday, July 3 with an opening ceremony, practice heats, and short races. On Saturday and Sunday, the main races are run. There is a celebration dinner for the teams on Saturday evening.
Transport: We can provide transport, or the race venue can be reached via the East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR. Then you can walk along the shoreline promenade eastwards a few hundred meters. The start of the races is at the point of the promenade that is near the Cross Harbour Tunnel and the New Mandarin Plaza.
Place and date: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 3 - 5, 2015 at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Final closing dinner is 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
We can help you, your team, or your group with arrangements and facilitate your trip to Hong Kong during this event. You can customize a trip to Hong Kong to watch this festival. See our Hong Kong Tours for an idea of things you can do here.
We can help plan and book your accommodations and travel including your flight tickets. We can plan the logistics for you or your group for this festival. We can also arrange a tour of more of China.
Here are some more tour suggestions for around Dragon Boat Festival time: