New Silk Road International Dragon Boat Festival kicked off on Saturday in Trakai, a famous lake resort over 30 km west of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

Altogether 13 teams from China, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, and Latvia are competing in a dragon boat race, the main part of the two-day event in the presence of hundreds of local residents, visitors and Chinese nationals in Lithuania.

“Bearing China’s long history and splendid cultural heritage, dragon boat racing is increasingly appealing to more and more people around the world,” said Chinese Ambassador to Lithuania Shen Zhifei, expressing the hope that the festival will help promote cultural exchanges, and deepen the friendship among peoples along the Silk Road.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The festival is also dedicated to the celebration of the anniversary, Shen added.

At the opening ceremony, Lithuanian Vice Minister of Education, Science and Sports Kornelija Tiesnsyte told that sports are a cross-culture phenomenon, which allows people to see different cultures while competing.

“Dragon boat racing is a sport which unites people, helps build the team to cooperate and follow the rules. It is really a good example for everyone,” the vice minister added.

Hosted by Lithuanian Dragon Boat Federation and co-sponsored by China Dragon Boat Association, this is the first time that Lithuania has an event like this.

“We are a combined team from Lithuania and Poland and we are huge fans of this sport. We love paddling and we always have a strong desire to win,” Olga, a member of the joint team for dragon boat racing said.

Dragon boat racing, which dates back 2,000 years and originated in southern China, is a traditional competitive water sport. During the race, teams of some 20 paddlers paddle furiously to the beat of a drum, offering spectators great excitement.