In Belgium's port city of Antwerp, the 8th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival organised by the Rotary International, Antwerp West is one of the city's biggest annual events, attracting 32 teams of competitors and around 6 000 enthusiastic paddlers and visitors. HKETO, Brussels, the title sponsor of the Festival, entered two boats (i.e. Hong Kong Dragon and Hong Kong International Paddlers) in the races. The crew of Hong Kong Dragon comprised staff of HKETO, Brussels and their family members and friends, while the Hong Kong International Paddlers, who made the final, had a crew of expats and locals. Many community groups and companies in Belgium also took part in the Festival as a team-building event.
The University of Gent and The University of Antwerp also fielded teams with the support of the Belgium Hong Kong Society. The starting shot was given by Deputy Representative of HKETO, Brussels, Miss Fiona Chau, while Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union, Ms Shirley Lam, presented the trophy to the fastest team.
Booklets and information about Hong Kong, including its many tourist attractions and its first Talent List, were distributed at the Hong Kong booth. Visitors to the booth could receive Hong Kong brand prizes after successfully completing a quiz about Hong Kong.
The Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, the Dragon Boat Festival (Tuen Ng Jit in Cantonese) occurs on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and is one of the most important Chinese festivals with the longest history, going back 2,000 years. Dragon Boat racing is also a prominent sport in Hong Kong at other times of year, with an estimated 30,000 active paddlers. The sport is becoming increasingly popular around the world and has ten official competition teams in the Netherlands alone. Belgium caught the bug in 2011, when the Festival was held in Antwerp for the first time at the initiative of Antwerp Rotary West.