The 22nd Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival happens along Vancouver’s Concord Place, Creekside Park and False Creek. Paddlers who clocked hours of hard training, practice and physio are the rising stars in this competition that brings together athleticism and camaraderie. Hear the spirited rhythm of the drums evoke another age.
According to a Chinese legend, a statesman and poet named Qu Yuan committed suicide in the Mi-Lo River. Crews of unsuccessful rescuers sped towards him in long, narrow boats. Rice dumplings known as tzung-tse were dropped in the water to deter fish from preying on Qu Yuan’s body. The legend lives on as the fifth day of the fifth lunar month unites teams of paddlers who re-enact the frantic race to save Qu Yuan.
Over 2,500 years ago, the Yangtze River was home to dragon boat races. In the 1970s, the Hong Kong Tourist Board introduced this sport to western audiences to market Hong Kong culture. Paddlers from western countries account for an annual growth rate of almost 30 percent. Currently over 50 million paddlers from over 60 countries apply their skill, teamwork, and sportsmanship in recreational and competitive races around the world.
Viewing Dragon Boats in Vancouver
Plan your trip and schedule with a map of the Dragon Boat Festival. Vancouver’s famous Seawall that loops around False Creek offers a scenic promenade by the races. Spectators can watch the crews assemble on the south docks of the Creek, or catch the finish line at the northeast corner between Science World and the Racers Village.
The Cambie Bridge, east deck, offers a high-angle view of the start line. Cambie Bridge is a favourite spot for photographers with tripods.
Viewers should take care to protect themselves from sun damage. Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
Outdoor Entertainment by Vancouver’s Seawall
The Festival offers free outdoor entertainment on the World Beat Stage. Both Saturday and Sunday expect the stage to erupt in an energetic burst from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Launch the summer season with world music from local and international talent.
Dragon Boat Festival Food
The Dragon Boat Festival not only mingles people from all walks of life, but also mingles flavours with origins from China, Korean, Greece, Jamaica and the Ukraine. The Silk Road Food Festival can cater to exotic tastes, or offer more picnic-style fare of roasted corn, fish and chips and mini donuts. On Saturday and Father’s Day Sunday, visit the Spice Islands Food Vendors.
Friendly competition happens in the water and also in the kitchen. The Aluminum Chef competition in the gazebo brings together eight young chefs from prestigious culinary schools. Each competitor uses ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of Vancouver and cooks with Alcan’s non-stick Slide foil. Competition starts on the hour from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sunday.
Transit for Vancouver Events
Use transit to avoid the frustration of little or no available public parking. Skytrain passengers can access the Main Street – Science World station at Quebec Street and Terminal Avenue, then walk west to the Creek. Canada Line passengers can depart from Olympic Village station and walk east along the Seawall on the south shore. Transit bus routes include 3 Main/Downtown, 8 Fraser/Downtown, 15 Cambie/Downtown. For more detailed transit information, see Translink.