Located in northeast Hunan Province, Yueyang is a wonderful city with a 2,500-year history resulting in a rich heritage of cultural relics and inspiring landscapes. Notable spots includes the Yueyang Pavilion and Dongting Lake, both of which are 'National Key Tourist Attractions'. However, since the Dragon Boat Festival is around the corner, Yueyang become hot travel spot for it’s also a wonderful destination to enjoy Dragon Boat Festival - Yueyang has held the International Dragon Boat Festival each year since 1991.
With a long history of over 2000 years, dating back to the Warring States Period (B.C 403 — B.C 221), Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most three important lunar festivals in China, along with Spring Festival and Mid-autumn Festival. The event’s origin stems from a piece of Chinese history, where is it said that on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar in 278 BC, Qu Yuan, the patriotic poet, drowned himself in the Miluo River. People along the Miluo River hold a grand Dragon Boat Race during the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival every year.
Dragon Boat Racing is the major custom to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival. When Qu Yuan drowned himself into the river, many fishermen rode their boats on the river, trying to find his body. They tried so hard that most even rode boats to Dongting Lake. Though they failed to make it, every year later locals would ride dragon boats for commemorating Qu Yuan, hoping to disperse creatures under the river in this way.
In 1991, the 1st International Dragon Boat Festival was held in Yueyang City, Hunan Province, which is the second hometown of Qu Yuan. The celebration activities includes worshiping the dragon head and dragon boat racing match. Since then, Yueyang holds the International Dragon Boat Festival regularly. Since then, the Yueyang International Dragon Boat Festival has been held every year, and these days, more than 100 teams from all over the world participate in the competitions.
It lasts for 7 days around Duanwu Festival (June 2, 2014). There are wonderful activities and dragon boat races every day.
There are seminars on international Qu Yuan culture, painting and calligraphy exhibitions in memory of Qu Yuan, the opening ceremony, the International Dragon Boat Contest, an international food festival, a sacrifice ceremony to Qu Yuan and trade activities. You can not only enjoy the dragon boat races, but also watch motorboats, paragliding, and local traditional performances.
Eating Zongzi is another indispensable part of Dragon Boat Festival celebration. In southern China almost every household will eat zongzi when the festival comes. People can also buy zongzi in the stores or from street vendors.
After Qu Yuan committed suicide in Miluo River, fishermen tried hard to find his body but failed. Some locals threw rice rolls, eggs and meat into the river to feed creatures under the river, hoping they wouldn’t eat the body of Qu Yuan. Years later people used leaves to roll the rice rolls and tightened them with colorful threads, which is known as Zongzi.