Dragon boat exchange strengthens China-Bulgaria bonds

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated:  May 20, 2024 L M S


Colorful dragon boats glide across the river in Yunlong town, Ningbo on May 19. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Yunlong town in Ningbo, Zhejiang province became the vibrant stage for an international dragon boat exchange on May 19, as 12 Bulgarian paddlers joined local teams for a spirited competition, infusing the event with a sense of international camaraderie.

Yunlong town in the city's Yinzhou district, renowned as the "Birthplace of Chinese Dragon Boat Culture", has a rich tradition of dragon boat racing, a practice dating back over 2000 years. Over the past 15 years, the town has consistently hosted Dragon Boat Festival events, making it a vital custodian of Chinese dragon boat heritage.

The genesis of this cross-cultural exchange can be traced back to a cultural promotion event held last February in Sofia, Bulgaria, where Yinzhou district showcased its dragon boat culture. Inspired by this display, Bulgaria decided to host its own Dragon Boat Culture Festival, albeit with only six dragon boats. Through collaboration facilitated by officials of the Chinese Embassy in Bulgaria, Yinzhou district and Bulgaria embarked on an interactive cultural exchange centered around dragon boat culture.

Last April, four dragon boats, donated by Yinzhou district, along with accompanying equipment, were shipped to Bulgaria. These boats swiftly became part of Bulgaria's preparations for their own Dragon Boat Culture Festival, an integral component of their "Chinese Culture Season".

Ruse, the fifth largest city in Bulgaria, plans to host the Dragon Boat World Championships in 2025. To prepare the competition, officials from the city, representatives of the Bulgarian Dragon Boat Association, and dragon boat athletes recently visited Yunlong town and participated in a dragon boat race with locals.

During the competition, 21 dragon boat teams hit the water. Among them were 12 Bulgarian rowers, joining local teams to create an unforgettable moment of friendship and cultural exchange.

"The competition was exhilarating. I loved chanting and paddling rhythmically with local rowers," said Bulgarian participant Victor Stoyanov Stoyanov.

Encho Iliev Enchev, deputy mayor of Ruse, noted that the trip to Yinzhou signifies a fresh beginning for cultural exchange and collaboration between Yinzhou and Ruse, with dragon boat culture serving as an important means to foster mutual understanding and cooperation between China and countries in Central and Eastern Europe.


Twelve Bulgarian paddlers bring an international twist to the traditional spectacle of dragon boat racing in Yunlong town, Ningbo on May 19. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]