The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet and minister during the Zhou Dynasty Warring States period in China. He was a cadet member of the Chu royal house. However, he was banished and accused of treason when the emperor decided to ally with the state of Qin.

Dragon Boat 2023 in Singapore
Qu Yuan remains a prominent figure in China. Photography:

When Qin captured the Chu capital, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Milou River. This devastated the locals who had come to love Qu Yuan. Legend has it that locals tried to race out in boats to save him or retrieve his body, which led to the dragon boat races. During the rescue attempt, they beat drums and pounded their paddles in the water to scare the fish away from devouring Qu Yuan’s body. Some also threw in rice dumplings hoping the fish would eat those instead. Each year, the celebration continues; hence you’ll find the loud dragon boat races and a plethora of rice dumplings to be had during this festive season.

The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. While it is a public holiday in China, it is not a public holiday in Singapore, but it is nevertheless a widely observed cultural event with a number of highlights to look forward to.

Catch the Dragon Boat Race at Bedok Reservoir

Guide to Dragon Boat Festival
Photography: Singapore Dragon Boat Association Facebook

One of the biggest highlights of the Dragon Boat Festival is the Dragon Boat Race happening at Bedok Reservoir. This is the oldest dragon boat race in Singapore and promises to be fun for the family, with a range of events to look forward to.

When: 24-25 June 2023
Where: PAssion Wave, Bedok Reservoir Park, 911 Bedok Reservoir Rd, Reservoir Park Bedok Reservoir Park, Carpark A, Nearest Car Park, Singapore 479311

Where to find rice dumplings and more in Singapore for Dragon Boat Festival

Rice dumplings are a classic not to be missed! Also known as zongzi, these glutinous rice dumplings are traditionally wrapped in bamboo leaves and then steamed or boiled before eating. These dumplings may encase a savoury meat or sweet bean filling and are utterly delightful. While they may be an acquired taste, more recently, there have been modern takes on this classic with restaurants including premium ingredients or healthy veggie options. During this festive season, you’re spoilt for choice with yummy variations on this classic. Also, during this period, you can look forward to some yummy Dragon Boat themed-menus at restaurants as well. Here are some of our fave yummy finds…

1. Sweet red bean dumplings from Din Tai Fung

Dragon Boat Festival
Photography: Din Tai Fung

This Dragon Boat festive season, the iconic Din Tai Fung is offering exquisite handcrafted red bean rice dumplings, which are air-flown from Taiwan. These dumplings have been meticulously prepared using only top-grade pearl glutinous rice encasing a mashed red bean paste and wrapped in bamboo leaves that lend a fragrant aroma. We think this could be a yummy treat for kids who like sweets. Get yours now from any Din Tai Fung outlet islandwide from now till 25 June 2023.

2. Traditional Savoury Dumplings at Summer Pavilion, The Ritz-Carlton

Guide to Dragon Boat Festival
Photography: The Ritz-Carlton

Commemorate the annual Dragon Boat Festival with one Michelin star Summer Pavilion’s traditional Hong Kong style rice dumplings, comprised of roast duck, roast pork, dried scallops, dried shrimp, salted egg yolk, mushrooms, lotus seeds, chestnuts, green beans and glutinous rice – lip-smackingly good! We think this combination of umami-esque ingredients is the best way to get a taste of tradition this festive season. Available for dine-in or takeaway from now till 22 June 2023.

Where: Summer Pavilion, The Ritz-Carlton Millenia,7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799

3. Go gourmet with Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant’s lux dumpling offerings

Dragon Boat Festival
Photography: Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel