The Dragon Boat festival is boat races that are on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese Lunar (moon) calendar. It is almost 2400 years old, and it is to remember a great poet Qu Yuan (343-290 B.C.). He died by drowning himself to protest against bad government and corruption. On this day, people eat zongzi, which are steamed dumplings made of sticky rice wrapped in corn leaves.
Traditionally, Chinese Dragon Boats raced on this day, but the tradition has spread all over the world, and many groups compete in Dragon Boat races everywhere. Today, in Canada, Dragon Boat racing teams are not just Chinese – many groups and companies have Dragon Boat teams, and the races are very exciting. The boats are between 12 and 37 metres long, and there are about 20 paddlers in each boat, sitting side-by-side. There is a drummer at the front and someone at the back steering the boat. The races are 250 or 500 metres. They are exciting and colourful!
The Montreal International Dragon Boat Festival is held in the summer at the Olympic Rowing Basin on Notre-Dame Island in Jean-Drapeau Park (Yellow Line, metro Jean-Drapeau). It may not be held on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, because there are many Dragon Boat Festivals in North American cities, and teams travel around to different cities on different weekends in the summer. Admission to the site is usually free, and sometimes there are free buses from Chinatown to the Olympic Basin on the race days.
For more information, check the Montreal Dragon Boat website.