Dragon Boat Festival draws 80,000 people to Victoria
Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival’s thrilling races, stunning cultural entertainment and tributes to cancer survivors draws 80,000 people to Victoria’s magnificent Inner Harbour.
Victoria, BC – 80,000 people attended the 18th annual Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival on the weekend of August 17th-19th at Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour, taking in the world class racing,tributes to cancer survivors, spectacular entertainment and exotic pan-Asian food.
The festival officially began on Friday, August 17th at 1pm with the two –thousand year old Taoist eyedotting ceremony, blessing the boats and honouring the spirits before the races begin.
Another significant event that day was the Lights of Courage Lantern Display. The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society’s seventh annual Lights of Courage campaign sold Chinese paper lanterns for $2 each from July 16th-August 19th, with all proceeds going to their beneficiary charity, BC Cancer Foundation for cancer research and treatment. Festival attendees watched in silence at Ship Point, where breast cancer survivor paddlers spoke about their personal struggles with cancer and lit the lanterns in a beautiful and touching display.
The thrilling Dragon Boat races began on Saturday morning, with the final race that day being the festival’s first Open Exhibition Race. This race was won by the Gorging Dragons with an amazing time of 1:50.96 minutes, by far the fastest time at the festival this year.
The Breast Cancer Survivor Ceremony took place on Sunday afternoon, with breast cancer survivor
teams paddling across the race course in a tribute to those affected by cancer. The final races concluded later that afternoon with the Gorging Dragons winning the platinum championship with a time of 1:58.87 minutes, and Bridge City Team Velocity winning the women’s platinum championship in 2:19.12 minutes.
The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival started in 1995 as a single day event with 20 paddling teams, held after the sport was introduced to the city during the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. The event has since transformed into a wildly successful three day, two night festival, bringing together 90 teams,2,400 paddlers, and 80,000 spectators, hosting one of the only dragon boat race courses in North America to take place in a working harbour.
Photo Courtesy: Gorging Dragons