Dragon boat festival

Festival season in Cambridge is coming to an end, for the summer festivals at least! One of my final festivals is the dragon boat race.

Dragon boat racing originated from China with several different legends the most popular being that it is inspired by Qu Yuan a loyal official who advised the king but was slandered and driven to suicide be drowning in the Miluo River. It is said that the locals towed out on the river to search for his body, beating drums to scare evil spirits away.

The festival itself is a small affair, there’s a few rides and a couple of food stalls but the focus is on (as it should be) the dragon boat races which go on throughout the day. I think there were some traditional Chinese dancing earlier in the day which I missed.

Each team consists of 10 ‘rowers’ a sweep (the person at the back steering) and a drummer at the head end who sets the pace via a drum. Lots of the teams had opted for fancy dress or made up their own chants as they paddled their way down the river. Anyone can enter as long as they have a team of willing volunteers!

The festival is in its 14th year and raises money for Addenbrookes charitable trust (ACT) which is dedicated to making a difference for patients and ensuring they have access to the best diagnostic and treatment options.

I arrived for the semi finals and settled in to watch, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your view) there were no accidents and no one fell in. . The race itself is short only a couple of hundred meters or so, but tbh with the amount of effort it looked like they were putting in it looked like it was long enough!


Its good fun to watch, shame that the weather wasn’t nicer or I may have stayed longer! It seems to be a fairly unknown festival as there weren’t that many people watching apart from the teams who were competing in, and lacked a little bit of atmosphere, but still fun to watch.

Have a good week 🙂


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