According to the Chinese Zodiac, the dragon is king. It is a symbol of power and wisdom, the mightiest of all creatures. But who is the king of the dragons? Find out this weekend at Darling Harbour as The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival wraps up with two days of spectacular dragon boat races.
With more than 3000 paddlers competing in 176 races, this is the largest dragon boat competition in the Southern Hemisphere. It kicks off with a traditional ‘eye dotting’ ceremony – in which the eyes of each boat’s dragon head are dotted with red paint to awaken and energise it for racing – and a blessing of the water by Taoist priests. Then the ruckus begins.
Races run every eight minutes throughout Saturday and Sunday – each one a blur of colour and clamour of competing drum beats. The ornamental dragon boats hold up to 22 people, including a sweep to steer them and a drummer to guide their paddling rhythm.
Dragon boating has been around for over 2000 years in China. It’s part sport, part ritual, part celebration and there couldn’t be a more fitting way to welcome in the Chinese Year of the Dragon.