The sight of China’s rivers filling with colourful crafts decked out to look like dragons – from their fearsome snouts to their scaly tails – can only mean one thing: the annual dragon boat festival. This colourful, yearly event may be a lot of fun, but the festival’s roots lie in tragedy. It commemorates Qu Yuan, a revered humanitarian politician, who drowned himself in the Miluo River in 278BC to protest against the Qin state’s invasion of his patch, Chu. The dismayed common people took to their boats and tried to keep the fish and evil spirits from Qu by splashing their oars and beating drums. Qin eventually conquered all its rival states and created China, but the patriotic poet is nonetheless honoured. If you happen to be in Beijing on 18th June, Xiadu Park hosts the city’s biggest celebration, with Beijing university’s students going head-to-head in an annual inter-university race.