Oarsome entertainment due at Dockside Dragon Boat Festival

London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival 2015 will be held on Sunday, June 28 at the London Regatta Cen

London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival 2015 will be held on Sunday, June 28 at the London Regatta Centre. - Credit: Archant

The dotting of dragons and roar of rowers will be celebrated in style at London Hong Kong Boat Festival this weekend.

Commemorating its 20th birthday, the free fundraiser festival in Docklands will see a record 44 clubs battling it out for four cups next Sunday, from enthusiastic amateurs to seasoned boatsmen.

Following the thrill of the morning heat races, visitors to the London Regatta Centre can enjoy a vast array of music and food from around the world before they head to the race finals in the late afternoon.

The watersport originated in southern China 2,000 years ago as an ancient folk ritual for contending villagers. Since 1976 dragon boat racing has been a competitive sport, but associated customs are still observed today.

One of these is dragon dotting, an ancient ritual to awaken the spirit of the legendary creature.

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At midday, families can witness the intriguing custom, which involves bowing three times to the dragon’s head, before dotting the eyes of the legendary creature with water from the Thames and earth from Dockside.

“The festival 2015 is set to be the best yet with a record 44 teams racing,” said Paul Thornhill of London Chinatown Lions club, who are putting on the event.

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“There will be a host of delicious street food from countries all across Eastern Asia, and the wonderful Hackney Brewery bar will serve beer, wine, Pimms and soft drinks.”

Those recovering from the excitement of the races can relax with a superb range of entertainment. Musical acts include BBC’s The Voice finalist Luciee Marie Closer, folk rock act Ab and the Underclass, and east London indie rock band Crash Island.

New British Chinese artists will also get a taste of the limelight when they are showcased by Spectrum Radio at the event.

As well as live music on the East West Festival stage and a food festival offering the tastes of South East Asia, families will be drawn to the formidable martial arts displays and gloriously colourful Chinese lion dancing.

Organised as a fundraiser, proceeds from the event will be donated to nominated charities supported by London Chinatown Lions Club.

Fantastic prizes including a pair of return flights to Hong Kong courtesy of Cathay Pacific and dinner for two at Hutong at The Shard are up for grabs through a generous raffle, which can be entered in advance through the festival website or on the day.

The festival is supported by The Hong Kong Executives Club, The London Chinatown Chinese Community Centre and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office.

London Hong Kong Boat Festival runs from 10am-6pm at London Regatta Center, Docklands. To find out more, go to dragonboatfestival.co.uk

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