10 Fun and Easy Dragon Boat Festival Facts

Written by Ruru Zhou Updated Mar. 1, 2024

The Dragon Boat Festival is a colorful and lively event celebrated in China and various other countries around the world. During the festival, Chinese people have a lot of traditional activities, such as dragon boat races and eating Zongzi.

Dragon boat festival facts

1. Meaning

The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the 3 most important traditional festivals in China. It is in honor of Qu Yuan, an ancient poet who drowned himself in a river.

2. The Festival Date

The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, usually falling in May or June on the Gregorian calendar. The festival date is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. 

Read the Dragon Boat Festival Calendar for more details.

3. Origins

The festival originated over 2,000 years ago and is believed to honor the ancient poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in a river out of despair.

Qu Yuan was deeply devoted to his country. When he learned of its fall, he was overwhelmed by despair and tragically ended his life by drowning in a river.

Read Dragon Boat Festival History for details.

4. Dragon Boat Races

Dragon Boat races

One of the festival's key highlights is the dragon boat races, where teams of rowers paddle their boats to the beat of a drummer, racing against other teams to reach the finish line first.

The boats used in the competition are long, narrow, and decorated like dragons with colorful, fierce-looking heads and tails.

Many Chinese cities like Hangzhou, and Guilin will hold Dragon Boat races during the festival.  

5. Zongzi(Rice Dumplings)

Delicious Zongzi

A traditional food enjoyed during the festival is zongzi, a kind of sticky rice dumpling. It contains ingredients like red beans and meat, wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves

Zongzi is very delicious, and it is also widely eaten in China as a snack.  

6. The Legendary Story Behind the Festival

The festival is said to honor the famous Chinese poet, Qu Yuan. Quyuan drowned himself in a river when he heard the downfall of his country. Legend has it that people raced in boats to rescue him and threw rice dumplings into the water to prevent fish from eating his body.

Read 3 interesting stories about the Dragon Boat Festival.

7. Warding Off Evil and Diseases

hang calamus during the dragon boat festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to ward off evil spirits. People believe that the fifth month when the festival takes place is the most poisonous time of the year. People are more prone to sickness during this time. 

 So, to stay safe, children often wear fragrant sachet, and families hang calamus in their homes to protect them from illness. 

Find more traditional ways to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival.

8. Listed in the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Dragon Boat Festival was listed in the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. 

9. Dragon Boat Festival Wishes

Happy Dragon Boat Festival is not an appropriate wish to greet others for the occasion. Instead, you can say: Wishing you peace and health at the Dragon Boat Festival. 

Happy Dragon Boat Festival wishes

10. Worldwide Celebration

The festival is not only celebrated in China but also in countries like Singapore, and Malaysia, and communities throughout the world where the overseas Chinese reside.

More Articles on the Dragon Boat Festival

Create My Trip

Need Help?

Request a custom itinerary today and get one step closer to your personalized trip

Create Your Trip