About Us

Roberts Park, Saltaire

History of Dragon Boating

The first Dragon Boat Festival was around 2500 years ago.

“The world famous Dragon Boat Festival, (known locally as Tuen Ng), falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet and minister known for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry and who eventually became a national hero.


Qu Yuan lived during the time of China‘s first feudal dynasties and supported the decision to fight against the powerful state. Though his actions led to his exile, he wrote in order to show his love for the country. Legend has it that Qu Yuan felt such remorse after the capture of his country’s capital that, after finishing his final poem, he waded into the Mi Lo River in today’s Hunan province as a form of protest and despair to the corruption surrounding him.

Upon hearing news of this tragic attempt, villagers took boats and carried dumplings to the middle of the river to try and save Qu Yuan, but their efforts were in vain. They turned to beating drums, splashing water with their paddles and throwing the rice dumplings into the water – serving as both an offering to Qu Yuan’s spirit, as well as a means to keep the fish and evil spirits away from his body. These rice dumplings became the zongzi we know today, while the search for Qu Yuan’s body became the intense dragon boat races.

Now, dragon boat races and other activities are held annually throughout ten sites in Hong Kong during this festive time. Thousands of competitors and supporters attend the various race days to take part in the festivities, parades and entertainment events.

The canoes take the form of a traditional Chinese dragon, often painted in fierce vibrant colors that are reminiscent of the old war canoes. The team on board will work together to steer the boat to the finish line as fast as possible, while a member sits at the front and beats a drum to maintain morale and ensure the rowers keep pace and time.”  source link

The Bradford Dragon Boat festival honours the team spirit and comeradery the sport successfully encourages. Over the three days, Bradford is awash with positive competition and fun ! 

Bradford Dragon Boat Festival History

The Bradford Dragon Boat Festival was started in 2015 by former World Champion John Galt.

John has given up most of his time for charity and whilst managing a full time job, works tirelessly with projects and clubs through the medium of what he calls “the best team work sport period”… Dragon Boat Racing.

He has won every Dragon Boating honor in the sport, and now the honor is ours as he daily commutes from Liverpool to Bradford five days a week at his own expense to make this a reality. 

John Galt was awarded the special the Special Recognition in the Outstanding Contribution Category for the Bradford Sports Awards 2018.

John voluntarily leads the festival organisers to deliver a truly inspirational event each year.  More on the Bradford Dragon Boat Festival Team here.

How we have grown from Humble Beginnings

The Bradford Dragon Boat Festival is ALL about Charity

Set in the idealic world heritage trust site of Roberts Park, saltaire, 2020 will mark the sixth year of the Bradford Dragon Boat Festival. 

This community supported, volunteer led charity event has started from it’s humble beginings in 2015 of 20 teams, approximately 5000 attendance to what is now a three day full out festival with over 130 teams racing and expected attendance in the excess of 40,000 over the event and millions in reach.

Live music and stage performances, fun fair and festival, hobbies and crafts, food and bars, sports and recreation, army assault courses plus so much more going on.

All of this is done by volunteers with local community help and support and above all, it is all for charities. The event has become so popular that it is split over three days and three categories.

See what goes on at the Bradford Dragon Boat Festival here.

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