Dragon Boats Go Global

Travel Blog  •  Julia Ross  •  06.01.09 | 10:31 AM ET

Photo by Andrew Deacon via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Though the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival has long enjoyed popularity in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, mainland China only made it a public holiday last year—one of many signs that traditions abandoned during the country’s Cultural Revolution are finally being restored. 

The funny thing is, the festival—which commemorates the death of a famous poet who drowned himself in a river—has become so globalized that China itself looks like it’s late to the party.

Though the holiday officially fell last Thursday (May 28), cities around the world began hosting dragon boat races weeks ago and will continue to do so through the summer. Depending on where you live, the races can resemble everything from a beer-soaked beach party to a full-on athletic competition. Witness the rather relaxed approach practiced by Frankfurters this year versus the energetic and tightly choreographed races in Tokyo (below).

In the U.S., you can catch the following dragon boat festivals through September:

Boston: June 6-7

New York: August 8-9

Seattle: August 22-23

San Francisco:  September 26-27

Julia Ross is a Washington, DC-based writer and frequent contributor to World Hum. She has lived in China and Taiwan, where she was a Fulbright scholar and Mandarin student. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Plenty and other publications. Her essay, Six Degrees of Vietnam, was shortlisted for "The Best American Travel Writing 2009."

2 Comments for Dragon Boats Go Global

Oceanside Lodging 06.01.09 | 1:20 PM ET

Hi! I am a Beijinger .As you know the northern china is lack of river and water.So almost have no dragon boat festival.But some amusement park have it.I just found that Beijing nine-dragon amusement park have the match.

yeschinatour 06.03.09 | 3:18 AM ET

During the festival, all chinese eat Zongzi, the traditional food on Double Fifth Festival (or Dragon Boat Fstival); and watch the exciting Dragon Boat Race, atmosphere is lively.

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