Skip to content Skip to footer

Dragon Boat Festival


The fifth day of the fifth lunar month (which falls between the last 10-day period of May and the first 10-day period of June)


All over the country


It is generally believed that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in memory of the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (c.340-278 B.C.), who lived in the State of Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.). In despair at not being able to halt the decline of the state, he drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Legend has it that people rowed their boats out onto their local river, throwing zongzi (pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves) into the water to prevent Qu Yuan’s corpse from being eaten by prawns, fish and crabs. Since then, it has become a traditional festival.

What's On

On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year, the Chinese people eat zongzi, hold the dragon boat race, drink realgar wine, carry sachets and bags for perfume, hang calamus leaves on the door, and pick various kinds of grasses and herbal medicines.

The dragon-boat race is the largest festive activity during the festival. Legend has it that after Qu Yuan’s death, people of the state of Chu went out in their boats, trying to rescue the patriotic poet or drive away fish in the river, because they were afraid Qu Yuan’s corpse would be eaten by fish. Thereafter people would row dragon boats to commemorate Qu Yuan on this day every year, which is the origin of the dragon boat race. Now a number of cities in the Yangtze River valley hold international dragon boat races on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year.

Zongzi, a food peculiar to the Dragon Boat Festival, differs widely in taste and shape. In the shape, some are triangle; some are in the shape of pyramid; and the others look like pagodas and columns. In taste, zongzi made in north China is sweet, and that in south China has sweet, salty, meat and vegetable stuffing. Huzhou in Zhejiang Province is famous for pork and sweetened bean paste zongz; Sichuan, for spiced salt bean zongzi ; and Guangdong, for Zhongshan zongzi wrapped with reed leaves.

Tourism Service

Travel agen­cies throughout the country organize relevant tourist activities during the festival, such as the dragon boat culture activities in Miluo of Hunan and Jingzhou of Hubei and the Jialingjiang River in Sichuan. (Please refer to the Sichuan Jialingjiang River Dragon Boat Tourism Culture Festival, China Jingzhou International Dragon Boat Festival and China Yueyang Interna­tional Dragon Boat Festival for details.)