The Boston Dragon Boat Festival takes place annually on the banks of the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge. Starting in 1979, Boston Dragon Boat Festival, the first and oldest such festival in North America, has grown from a small neighborhood event commemorating the death in 200 B.C. of the beloved Chinese poet-patriot Qu Yuan to the largest Asian-American cultural event in New England, drawing more than 20,000 participants and spectators.
Each year, 30-40 teams from the US and Canada compete over a 500-meter course in an energetic race to the finish line. The teams practice in the spring to prepare for the June races, paddling in sleek, colorful 39-foot-Hong Kong-style dragon boats. Along with dragon boat races, the festival also presents performances from various Asian cultures, Asian food, and arts and crafts representing traditions of this ancient Chinese celebration.
The Boston Dragon Boat Festival fosters learning and exploration of diverse multi-cultural heritage, especially that of the Asian-American heritage in New England. The goal of the festival is to provide a common setting through which citizens of diverse backgrounds may share goodwill. The short-term impact is a day of friendship, and the long-term impact will be bonds forged within a heritage activity and extended to life-long understanding among people of diverse backgrounds. Shared participation in arts and athletics not only serves as unifying strategies, it also improves community life and health and fitness for all.