Dragon Boat Festival Race at the Esplanade waterfront

Duan Wu Jie (端午节), commonly known as the Dragon Boat Festival, Fifth Month Festival or Dumpling Festival, is a Southern Chinese festival celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month around the time of the Summer Solstice. Initially, the festival was used to revere the River Dragon of Chinese mythology but it gradually evolved to become an event that commemorated the death of Qu Yuan, an official of the kingdom of Chu during the Warring States period (475 to 221 BCE). According to folklore, Qu was banished from court for speaking out against corrupt officials and eventually committed suicide by jumping into the Mi Lo River. One version of the story claims that the practice of eating ‘zongzi’ (粽子), the pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo, during the festival began when fishermen threw such dumplings into the river to prevent fishes from eating Qu’s body. Similarly, the dragon boat races held during the festival sought to recreate the unsuccessful attempts made by the fisherman to recover Qu’s body from the river.In June 1978, the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board organised the first regatta-style dragon boat race to mark the festival. Held at the Esplanade waterfront, the inaugural Dragon Boat Festival attracted 25 local teams and was won by the Changi Adventurers’ Club. The event has since evolved into an annual affair, attracting competitors from Southeast Asia and beyond.