The Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival Makes Waves On The Schuylkill River, This Saturday, October 5

The Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival celebrates ancient Chinese culture through a full day of dragon boat racing along the Schuylkill River. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)

This Saturday, October 5, Philadelphia celebrates the ancient Chinese tradition of Dragon Boat Racing with a full-fledged dragon boat race and festival along the Schuylkill River.

The Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival serves as the city’s celebration of the ancient Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing which dates back to 278 B.C. According to legend, the ancient Chinese poet and statesmen, Qu Yuan, drowned himself in the Milou River after he learned the news of his impending exile. Upon hearing Qu Yuan’s plan to drown himself, locals rushed out in their fishing boats to rescue him. While in their boat, they drummed and splashed, hoping the sounds and motions would deter dragons and fish from eating his body.

The dragon boat festival takes over the river beginning a few meters above St. Joe’s boathouse (at 4 Boathouse Row) and follows a 500-meter course down the Schuylkill.

Each boat consists of a steerer, 20 rowers paddling in unison and a drummer to set the pace for the boat. The boats are a sight for sore eyes as they promise brightly colored dragon heads and tails at the front and back of each boat and a flashy paint job.

The first race begins at 8 a.m. and throughout the day, more than 50 teams, made up of community members, charities and corporate groups, swiftly paddle their way down the course multiple times per day. Click here for the race schedule.

Along the Schuylkill, spectators will find a tented picnic area set up by each of the participating teams and are encouraged to join in the merriment of the festival.

Cheer on the teams at this lively race and festival!

The Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival
When: Saturday, October 5, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Where: Schuylkill River
Cost: Free
More info:


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