Hong Kong’s waterways were filled with a splash of color Thursday as hundreds of paddlers kicked off the annual Dragon Boat Festival.

Hordes of chanting fans cheered on participants along a race course in the Aberdeen neighborhood that was lined with fishing boats.

The festival, also known as Tuen Ng Festival, honors Qu Yuan, a revered poet in the Zhou Dynasty, according to Malay Mail Online. He drowned in 277 B.C. while denouncing government corruption.

Frederick Chan, 41, the captain of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects team, told the South China Morning Post that the day was “exciting, and just as hot as last year.”

At the International Dragon Boat Championships at Stanley Main Beach, paddlers from more than 280 local and international corporations raced against each other, the newspaper added.

Around 4,000 athletes from 14 countries and regions are expected to compete in three days of races in Hong Kong. Similar festivals were also held in Indonesia and Taiwan.