Each spring, Houston is home to numerous exciting community events. From food truck festivals to flower shows to wine tastings, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest in this incredible city. This May, you can attend a fabulous, unique event just minutes from your home at Monarch Medical Center—the 18th Annual Houston Dragon Boat Festival.
This festival draws a diverse crowd every year, with its exciting races, delicious food, and entertaining music.
See what’s in store:
Houston Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon boating is an ancient Chinese past time dating back over 2,000 years. Dragon boats were originally used for religious purposes, but later, dragon boat racing became a tradition created to honor an ancient Chinese poet, Qu Yuan.
As the story goes:
Qu Yuan was a trusted advisor to the king, but after voicing his displeasure with the political corruption that was running rampant through the kingdom, he was banished. He wandered the countryside and wrote poetry that showed his intense patriotism. Eventually, word of the kingdom’s demise reached him and he threw himself into the Mi Lo River to protest the incessant corruption. Many people raced into the river in their boats to save him, and it is said that they beat drums to scare off the fish and evil spirits.
Soon after, dragon boat races became a cultural tradition used to honor Qu Yuan’s spirit. Houston’s Dragon Boat Festival provides delightful entertainment to the community while increasing awareness of cultural traditions, music, and food.
Traditional 500-pound Hong Kong style dragon boats are 40-feet long and carry 20 paddlers, one drummer, and one steersperson. More than 30 teams compete in races that range from 250 meters to 1000 meters. Racers paddle along with the rhythm of the drummer to keep the whole team in sync.
New races begin every 15-20 minutes, and the constant racing creates an incredibly enjoyable, exciting atmosphere. The colorful, eye-catching boats feature the head and tail of a dragon with bright scales along the sides.
Each boat has its own unique coloring and patterns, making this event a real treat for the eyes.
In addition to pulse-pounding races, the Houston Dragon Boat Festival boasts many food vendors, cultural performances, and live music throughout the day.
When you want a break from the races (if you can tear your eyes away), enjoy authentic Chinese fare. Then, explore the rest of the festival and enjoy breathtaking dances and unique live music.
When and Where
The 18th Annual Houston Dragon Boat Festival takes place on Saturday, May 5 at Allen’s Landing from 8:30 am- 4:00 pm. Admission is free and there is plenty of space for the large crowd.
Want to Race?
If your business, community, or youth team wants to race, download a sponsorship packet online for more information. Teams are provided plenty of opportunities to practice before the big race.
The Houston Dragon Boat Festival also welcomes teams from around the world. So there are sure to be quite a few serious competitors out on the water!
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available for anyone who would like to help make this event a success. Numerous volunteers are needed for a variety of positions including boat help, check-in, greeters, parking, and food service, among many others.
The Houston Dragon Boat Festival is an incredible occasion that draws large, diverse crowds. This cultural event is exciting, unique, and loads of fun. It’s a must-see if you’ve never been before! Come out and enjoy a beautiful day on the Buffalo Bayou.Back to all posts