39th Annual Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Come celebrate the 39th Annual Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday, June 10, 2018, from 12:00 p.m. – 5 p.m. rain or shine! Spectators will be able to watch brightly colored dragon boats, piloted by paddlers from all over Massachusetts, New England and New York, as they race down the Charles River from Western Avenue Bridge. The festival is sponsored in part by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Hong Kong ETO), State Street, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Eastern Bank and South Cove Community Health Center and Boston Dragon Boat Festival Committee.

Located by John W. Weeks Foot Bridge on the Charles River between JFK Avenue and Western Avenue, this year’s festival will feature 74 teams competing in ten categories designated with special races and medals for the Colleges including Financial Institutions, Corporate, Health Care, College, Chinese University Alumni, Women’s, Club, Community and Recreational and Cancer Survivors Divisions.

While races start in the morning, cultural programs will begin at 12 Noon. All programs are free and family friendly for visitors. Sponsors, founders and committee members will paint the eyes of the dragon head on each boat at the dock on Boston side. This is an ancient Chinese ceremony that is believed to enable the dragon to soar with the utmost power. The Eye-dotting Ceremony will take place in the accompaniment of traditional Chinese drum dance inside the performance tent by Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association (GBCCA).

The Opening Ceremony will be followed by cultural programs and performances. There will be traditional Chinese music and Yo Yo performance by GBCCA and Cambridge Center for Chinese Culture, Bollywood Style Dance by Shaila School of Dance, Korean Tae Kwon-Do presentation by Jae Hun Kim Tae Kwon-Do Institute, as well as returning favorites such as Dragon and Lion Dances and Chinese martial arts by Wahlum Kungfu and traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by Odaiko New England. Ms. Lili Feng, a favorite contemporary singer from China, will return this year! The festival will also present a rare appearance by Boston Beijing Opera Association with the entire cast fully dressed up in traditional Beijing opera costumes.

We will bring to visitors interactive cultural demonstrations. Join in a Taiji demonstration on the banks of Charles by Storrow Drive, try your own lion dance with Gunkwok Lion Dance Troupe, and learn Chinese fan dance with the dance class of Newton Chinese School.

Visitors young and old will find GBCCA’s fun and beautiful hands-on Chinese arts and crafts inspiring and engaging. Come also to sample various Asian foods featuring Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and more lining the side of Memorial Drive.

Traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (late May to mid June on the solar calendar), the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan (340-278 BCE). A political leader of State of Chu, Qu Yuan is recognized as China’s first distinguished poet. Qu Yuan lost the king’s favor and was banished from his home state of Chu because of his opposition to the prevalent policy of compromise to the powerful state of Qin. In exile, he wrote the poem, “Encountering Sorrow,” which shows a great loyalty to his state and its people. In 278 BCE, Qu Yuan learned the news that Chu had been conquered by Qin. Heart

broken, he drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. The people of Chu rushed to the river to rescue him. Too late to save Qu Yuan, they splashed furiously and threw zong-zi (traditional rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) into the river as a sacrifice to his spirit and to keep the fish away from his body.


Today, Dragon Boat Festivals and races are popular around the world. The first Dragon Boat Festival in the United States was held in Boston in 1979, the first in North America. It is now the largest Asian cultural festival in New England. The Boston festival is used as a vehicle to promote Asian cultures and dragon boat racing, as well as to bring diverse communities together in Boston and the surrounding areas. Every year, more than 20,000 people lined the banks of the Charles to enjoy the festivities and performances.

For PR and other festival inquiries please contact:
Gail Wang