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Heart & Hope



Victoria Dragonboat Festival marks 20 years in the Inner Harbour August 15 to 17

For 20 years, the Victoria Dragonboat Festival has welcomed paddlers from across North America to local waters, engaging in challenging paddling competition, cultural celebrations and support for those who have experienced cancer.

The only such festival held in a working harbour, there’s plenty to see and do in Victoria’s Inner Harbour August 15 to 17. The traditional Eye Dotting Ceremony kicks things off August 15 when Taoist priests wake the sleeping spirits of the dragon boats, cleanse the area of competition, bless the competitors and their boats, and charge the boats and their crews with the Spirit of the Dragon and the Goddess of the Sea.

Teams race approximately 470 metres, from the start line at Laurel Point toward the iconic Empress Hotel in the heart of downtown Victoria, to the cheers of hundreds of fans lining the pier. Racing runs from 8am to around 4pm Saturday, with semi-final action starting Sunday morning.

Not all the action takes place on the water. In addition to a full-line-up of multicultural entertainment on-shore, scheduled activities include Chinatown and First Nations walking tours with local historian John Adams and the always-fun Paddlers’ Air Band Contest Saturday. Indulge in flavours from around the world at the Forbidden City Food Court, home to such diverse fare as Filipino spring rolls and Polish perogies, cool off in the beer garden or peruse the market stalls. The festival promises much to see and do, all in the heart of Victoria’s dynamic downtown.

Weekend highlights include Friday’s Lights of Courage Illumination Ceremony honouring those who have been affected by cancer and raising funds for research and treatment, and Sunday’s Breast Cancer Survivors’ Ceremony and Honour Arch, honouring friends who have fought breast cancer, and the Breast Cancer Survivors’ Challenge race, followed by the Carnation Toss ceremony.

To recognize a loved one affected by cancer, simply buy a colourful Chinese paper lantern from Victoria Fairway Market stores, the Bay Centre, Denny’s Restaurant or on-site at the a BC Cancer Foundation tent and write a message as a tribute to anyone you knew who has been diagnosed with cancer. The lanterns will be illuminated Friday evening, as thousands of fellow supporters look on and remain hanging throughout the festival. All proceeds from lantern sales support the BC Cancer Foundation.

Dragon Boats Festival

Festival Schedule


1pm – Eye Dotting Ceremony

2:30pm – Chinatown walking tour with local historian John Adams

7pm – Headlining band

9pm – Lights of Courage Illumination Ceremony



8am to 4pm – Racing in the harbour

9am – Kids’ Tent opens

1pm – First Nations walking tour with local
historian John Adams

2 & 3:30pm – Chinatown walking tours

6:30pm – Paddlers’ Air Band Contest

9pm – Saturday night headliners



8:30am – Semi-Final races begin

9am – Kids’ Tent opens

11am – First Nations walking tour

12 & 1:30pm – Chinatown walking tours

3pm – Award ceremonies, taking place on the Main Stage every 15 minutes, approx. 45 minutes after your final race


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