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​​One of the most colourful​ events of the Royal Docks calendar takes place this Sunday (30 June) when the Dragon Boat Festival returns.

Teams from across London, including many from City firms, drum and heave across the water while at the Dockside, up to 10,000 spectators indulge in the Chinese culture, South East Asian food and spectacle. There are five competitive cups up for grabs but the waters by the Royal Docks Adventure attract beginners and seasoned rowers alike.

The all-day event has been run annually by the London Chinatown Lions Club for more than a decade starting as a fund raiser for Chinese schools within the M25 perimeter. It now supports a range of charities, locally and internationally.

The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is the second largest cultural event in the Chinese calendar, second only to Chinese New Year.

Why dragon boats?

The festival traditionally falls on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar and marks the beginning of the wet season, when farmers began to sow their seeds. The prosperity of the farming community largely depended on sufficient rainfall to ensure a bumper harvest.  The dragon in the Chinese Zodiac symbolises the clouds, rain and water, and is said to rule the rivers and lakes.

Some 2,500 years ago, the farming communities began their worship of the dragon by organising dragon boat races to welcome the wet season

What’s on

  • Traditional Chinese Lion Dancing
  • Live music
  • Cultural theatrical acts including martial arts
  • Dance performances, including lion dancing
  • Tai Chi
  • Food festival offering gourmet street food from Asia including Chinese, Japanese & Korean Cuisine
  • Dance, comedy and games on the East West stage

The schedule

08:30  Registration

08:30  Food stalls serving

10:00   Bars open

10:00   First race and public arrive

11:00   DJ & entertainment begins

12:30   Opening & eye-dotting ceremony

12:45   Bands start on stage

17:30   Finals

17:45   Medal Ceremony

18:00  Event ends