(This story is sponsored by Dragon Boat BC.)
From June 24 to 26, North America's flagship dragon boat festival returns to three of Vancouver’s most picturesque outdoor locations: Concord Pacific Place, Creekside Park, and False Creek.
While the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival has certainly evolved from its ancient roots, it continues to bring people together through culture and sport. The races have become a highly anticipated summer event for many Vancouverites.
Because of the pandemic, the 2021 festival was smaller and featured fewer teams as many faced travel restrictions. It was also postponed, ensuring that Dragon Boat BC had enough time to adjust its programming to keep workers, athletes, and attendees safe.
But this year, there will be more than 130 teams from across Canada and the U.S., each made up of race-ready paddlers from different backgrounds—dragon boat is an inclusive activity.
“Through the difficulties of the past two years, we’ve pivoted, adjusted, and reimagined what the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival is, but ultimately at our core, we are a cultural sport that unites people,” shares Dominic Lai, development, marketing, and operations director at Dragon Boat BC. “We’re excited to welcome back paddlers to False Creek, where dragon boat began in Canada back at Expo 86.”
At the festival, you’ll see paddlers training for the World Championships, recreational teams and teams made up of friends, youth and school groups, parapaddlers, and those simply looking to try out a new sport. Participants range in age from 12 to 90, highlighting that the cultural sport is more about coming together and less about combative competition.
The 2022 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival will also feature the Paddlers Abreast Canada Breast Cancer Survivor division. This special racing event reunites paddlers from across Canada to the spot where breast cancer paddling began decades ago—as a result of local research.
“Dr. Don McKenzie started the breast cancer survivor paddling movement as part of a UBC clinical trial in 1996. His goal was to prove that the disease could be the beginning of a new journey, which involved a dragon boat,” says Kathleen Myers, Paddlers Abreast Canada committee member and breast cancer survivor. “Now, 26 years later, 19 breast cancer survivor boats from teams across Canada will be coming together in False Creek for the first time since the pandemic.”
Thankfully, this year’s 34th edition will look more like the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival we know and love. In addition to the high-energy races, guests can also enjoy live music, the Expo 86 Original Teak Dragon Boat Display, art installations, and tasty food from several vendors. The Main Stage will also feature a 100 percent local lineup with headliners The Zolas, supported by Hotel Mira, Mauvey, and Desirée Dawson.
Public activities are held on June 25 and 26, and private racer-only events will take place on June 24. Festival admission is free.
For more information on the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival, click here.