This weekend’s annual Chinese New Year dragon boat races will see over 3,000 paddlers from Australian and international teams compete in 100 races, as thousands of friends and family cheer on.
On Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 February, the biggest dragon boat regatta in the southern hemisphere will descend upon Cockle Bay, providing an action-packed finale to the City of Sydney’s 17th annual Chinese New Year Festival.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the annual race weekend was a unique opportunity to witness a great Chinese tradition being played out on Sydney Harbour.
“From the City’s own Golden Oldies team to paddlers as young as 12, people of all ages are getting set to participate in this year’s Chinese New Year dragon boat races,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“Combined with two days of live entertainment, music, food, and kids’ activities onshore, it’s the perfect way to finish off Sydney’s most successful Chinese New Year celebrations yet.”
The dragon boat races are the last event in a festival that has included more than 80 performances, banquets, exhibitions, dances, markets, karaoke competitions and the spectacular Twilight Parade.
Emerging in ancient China during the Zhou dynasty, the 2,000 year old racing tradition features 12-metre-long boats that are carved and decorated to resemble a dragon, while its 20 paddlers, sweep and drummer battle it out across various race categories.
An essential part of the dragon boat races is the blessing of the waters, a Taoist ritual that prepares the waters for competition.
This is followed by an eye-dotting ceremony, where red paint is dotted onto the eyes of the boat’s dragon head to awaken the creature from its slumber and re-energise it for the race ahead.
More than 60 races are scheduled on Saturday, with 40 on Sunday. Races will run every eight minutes from 8am-5pm at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour.
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