HONG KONG -- One of the premier events of Hong Kong's sporting
calendar, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, is set to churn the
waters of the Shing Mun River July 3 and 4 this year.
The Dragon Boat Festival, held on the fifth day of the fifth
lunar month, originated in Hong Kong in 1976, although the
spectacle of dragon boat races is thought to go back some 2,000
years. The festival is held to commemorate the death of Chinese
hero Qu Yuan, who, it is said, drowned himself in the Mi Lo river
during the third century B.C. to protest a corrupt government.
The race, which is expected to draw some 15,000 spectators, is
held in Hong Kong's New Territories district on a 640-meter,
eight-lane race course starting at Sha Tin Park's Pictorial Garden
and finishing at Ravana Garden. This year's event features 12
categories, including men's, women's and children's championships,
as well as a Mixed International Championship and races pitting
members of various police, financial, public utilities and fishing
Apart from viewing the dazzling race, spectators can wander
through a Biergarten that will feature bars, food stalls and
souvenir shops; performances by jazz bands, cheerleading teams and
drum performers, and a beer-drinking contest. The festival also
will feature a July 4 Bath Tub race, during which six bathtubs
containing two paddlers each race for 150 meters.
Spectators can view the race from a tiered Hospitality Box that
offers a canopy, tables, chairs and electric fans, or stake out a
vantage point for free along the waterfront. Admission to the
Hospitality Box, including a reserved seat, unlimited soft drinks
and local beer with nuts and chips, costs about $13 on July 3 and
$32 on July 4. A two-day pass costs about $39 and provides a
reserved seat, unlimited soft drinks and beer with nuts and chips
on both days, as well as a buffet lunch on Sunday.
The festivities will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on July 3
and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 4. Hong Kong Tourist Association,
Phone: New York, (212) 421-3382; Chicago, (312) 329-1828; Los
Angeles, (310) 208 4582, or Toronto, (416) 366-2389.