The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in June. The festival has a history of over 2,000 years and is celebrated in various parts of East Asia.


The Dragon Boat Festival is believed to have originated from the commemoration of the ancient poet and statesman Qu Yuan, who lived during the Warring States period in China. Qu Yuan was known for his loyalty to the state of Chu and his patriotic poems. When his kingdom was invaded and captured, he drowned himself in the Miluo River as an act of despair and protest against corruption. The local people admired Qu Yuan and tried to save him by racing out in their boats, beating drums to scare away evil spirits and throwing rice dumplings (zongzi) into the water to prevent fish from eating his body.


These are the traditions that have been maintained over the years to celebrate this holiday:

  • Dragon Boat Races: The most prominent feature of the Dragon Boat Festival is the dragon boat races. Teams paddle in long, narrow boats decorated like dragons, accompanied by the rhythmic beat of drums. The races are not only a competitive sport but also a way to pay homage to Qu Yuan’s rescue attempt.
  • Zongzi: These pyramid-shaped sticky rice dumplings are a traditional food associated with the festival. They are made by wrapping glutinous rice with various fillings, such as meats, beans, or nuts, in bamboo leaves and then steaming or boiling them. Zongzi is eaten during the festival to symbolize the rice offerings made to Qu Yuan and to ward off evil spirits.
  • Hanging Up Herbal Sachets: People often hang small pouches filled with herbs called “sachets” around their necks or on their front doors during the festival. These sachets are believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and diseases and bring good luck and protection.
  • Wearing Colorful Threads: It is a common practice for people to wear colorful silk threads, often with small pendants or amulets attached, during the Dragon Boat Festival. These threads are believed to have protective properties and are tied around wrists or ankles of both children and adults.


The Dragon Boat Festival is a time for people to pay tribute to Qu Yuan’s patriotism, promote traditional culture, and strengthen community spirit. The festival is also associated with driving away evil spirits and bringing good fortune, health, and protection.

Overall, the Dragon Boat Festival is a vibrant and festive occasion where people come together to enjoy dragon boat races, savor delicious zongzi, participate in traditional customs, and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of China.


Tourism and Hospitality

The Dragon Boat Festival attracts a significant number of domestic and international tourists, especially in regions where the festival is widely celebrated. This influx of visitors creates opportunities for the tourism and hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and local businesses catering to tourists’ needs.

Food and Beverage Industry

The festival’s association with zongzi, the traditional sticky rice dumplings, has led to increased demand for zongzi both domestically and internationally. As the festival gains recognition globally, zongzi and other traditional festival foods may see increased popularity and availability in international markets. This creates opportunities for food manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers to cater to the growing demand for traditional Chinese festival cuisine.

Cultural Exchanges and Festivals

The Dragon Boat Festival serves as a cultural bridge, promoting Chinese traditions and fostering cultural exchanges. In various countries, local communities and organizations host Dragon Boat Festival celebrations to showcase Chinese culture and engage with diverse audiences. This exchange of cultural practices contributes to cultural diversity, tourism, and cross-cultural understanding.

Retail and E-commerce

During the festival season, there is a surge in consumer spending on festival-related products, gifts, and merchandise. E-commerce platforms often offer special promotions and discounts on traditional festival items, attracting customers both within China and in global markets. The festival presents opportunities for retailers, e-commerce platforms, and businesses to tap into the festive market and cater to consumer demand.

Cross-Border Business Opportunities

The festival provides a platform for cross-border business collaborations and trade opportunities. Chinese companies may leverage the festival’s significance to promote products and services internationally, and global businesses may seek partnerships or marketing initiatives to target the Chinese market during this festive season.

Thus, although the direct influence of the Dragon Boat Festival on the global market may vary depending on the specific industry and region, the festival’s cultural significance, growing popularity, and association with Chinese traditions and cuisine contribute to its impact on various sectors of the global market.


Brands can take advantage of the Dragon Boat Festival to engage with consumers and tap into the festival’s cultural significance. Here are a few ways brands can leverage the festival:

Festival-themed Promotions

Brands can create special promotions and offers that align with the festival spirit. This can include discounts, limited edition products, or exclusive festival bundles. Incorporating traditional elements such as zongzi-inspired flavors, festive packaging, or dragon boat motifs can enhance the festival experience for consumers.

Social Media Campaigns

Brands can leverage social media platforms to run creative and engaging campaigns centered around the Dragon Boat Festival. This can involve user-generated content challenges, storytelling, or interactive quizzes related to festival traditions. Encouraging followers to share their festival experiences or memories using specific hashtags can increase brand visibility and foster community engagement.

Influencer Collaborations

Partnering with influencers who have a strong presence during the festival season can help brands reach a wider audience. Influencers can create content showcasing the brand’s festival-themed products, share festival-related recipes or DIY activities, or provide insights into traditional customs and celebrations associated with the Dragon Boat Festival.

Festive Content Marketing

Brands can develop content marketing strategies that educate and entertain consumers about the festival. This can include blog articles, videos, or infographics highlighting the festival’s history, traditions, and significance. Sharing recipes for homemade zongzi, offering tips for celebrating the festival, or featuring stories about local celebrations can help brands connect with their target audience.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives

Brands can engage in CSR activities during the festival to demonstrate their commitment to cultural preservation and community involvement. Sponsoring or participating in dragon boat races, supporting cultural events or performances, or contributing to local charities associated with the festival can enhance brand reputation and foster a positive brand image.

Undeniably, it’s important for brands to approach the festival with cultural sensitivity and authenticity, respecting the traditions and values associated with the Dragon Boat Festival. By aligning their marketing efforts with the festival’s spirit, brands can connect with consumers, drive sales, and enhance brand awareness during this festive period.


The Dragon Boat Festival holds significant cultural value for millions of Chinese people who gather to celebrate by participating in Dragon Boat Races and enjoying traditional rice dumplings called “Zòngzi” with their friends and families. 

This festive occasion presents an excellent marketing opportunity for foreign brands when approached with cultural sensitivity. 

As an example, in 2019 Lego, known for its popular building block sets, recognized the festival’s appeal and released a special Dragon Boat Race set. This product catered to the enthusiasm surrounding the Dragon Boat Races and allowed children and families to engage in imaginative play centered around this traditional event.

Instead Starbucks, a well-known beverage global brand, embraced the festival by launching a limited-time campaign. They introduced a delightful twist on the festival’s traditional food, the Zòngzi, by offering icy dumplings. This creative take on the classic treat resonated with consumers during the festival period, adding a refreshing touch to their celebrations.

Additionally, Starbucks tapped into the growing trend of sustainability among young Chinese consumers. In line with their commitment to environmental consciousness, they introduced limited edition tote bags made from recycled materials. These bags featured captivating designs created by local artist Na Zhang 张娜, further emphasizing Starbucks’ dedication to their “GO GREEN” approach. By aligning their campaign with sustainability and promoting eco-friendly practices, Starbucks effectively engaged with Chinese consumers who value environmental responsibility.

In conclusion, by embracing the cultural significance of the Dragon Boat Festival and incorporating elements that resonate with consumers, brands like Lego and Starbucks were able to capitalize on the festivities, generate brand awareness, and foster a deeper connection with Chinese consumers during this special occasion.

Long Advisory digital marketing agency in China

Long Advisory supports Western companies in China through digital marketing. In fact, our experience has led us to believe that today, the best and most convenient approach to making your brand well-known in China is through a digital approach. Furthermore, thanks to our know-how, we know how to make your brand known to potential Chinese consumers. With the effective coordination of Long Advisory, your company will see a new rise in the largest market in the world: China.

Long Advisory is a digital marketing agency specializing in developing digital marketing solutions tailored for the Chinese market. 

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