False Creek will once again be alive to the sounds of drums encouraging teams of paddlers to travel as fast as they can.
That's because the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival is returning to False Creek this summer. The 2022 event features two days of free live music at Concord Pacific Place and Creekside Park on June 25 and 26, along with racer-only events on June 24.
Emblematic of Vancouver’s diversity, the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival will feature a blend of different musical traditions. These will include a traditional Chinese music ensemble and groups representing the region’s Indigenous heritage dating back more than 10,000 years.
“As our event evolves alongside the city, we’ve reinterpreted what a modern dragon boat festival can be while respecting and amplifying our heritage,” Dragon Boat B.C. development, marketing, and operations director Dominic Lai said in a news release. “While the festival looks different than when it began thousands of years ago, we’ve returned to its core purpose to showcase local culture and sport, and uniting people to tell their stories.
“We’re excited to share our platform with artists that reflect our community’s diversity on the 102.7 THE PEAK Main Stage, and invite everyone in to experience our community’s rich cultural fabric,” he added.
On the Saturday (June 25), performers include the Zolas, Hotel Mira, Mauvey, Children of Takaya, Dacey, Ludic, AHSIA, Eagle Song Dancers, and Qing Yun Music Society.
The following day (June 26) will feature Desirée Dawson, Tonye Aganaba, Coastal Wolf Pack, COCO JAFRO, Best Night Ever, and Niña Mendoza on the main stage.
The festival wouldn’t be possible were it not for the support of Concord Pacific, which covers registration fees of overseas competitors, and the provincial and federal governments.
Over the years, the event has not only brought different communities together, it has also helped draw attention to the fight against breast cancer. Teams of survivors compete in the Paddlers Abreast Canada Breast Cancer Division.
Every junior team competes for free as a result of the generosity of the Milton K. Wong Legacy Project, which is named for a deceased Vancouver philanthropist who funded many projects, including antiracism initiatives.
The Milton K. Wong Legacy Project also subsidizes access rates for those competing for the under-24, senior, and all-access cups. All-access teams are comprised of people with different abilities, as well as cancer survivors.
Dragon boat racing has been practised in southern China for 2,000 years, with 18 to 20 people in a standard boat and eight to 10 in a small boat. They often have a helmsperson and drummer.
These human-powered vessels made their debut in Vancouver at the Expo 86 world’s fair. In 1989, the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society launched the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival. Next year will mark its 35th anniversary.