The tradition of dragonboat racing originated in southern China over 2,000 years ago. According to legend, a poet and statesman named Qu Yuan made himself a target of his rivals through unswerving honor and integrity. When said enemies were able to trick the king into banishing Qu Yuan from the province, he loaded his pockets with stones and threw himself into the Mi Lo River. Local fishermen raced in vain to rescue him, their drums pounding and paddles splashing to scare the fish and water dragons away. To honor the lost and beloved Qu Yuan, the dragonboat race was made an annual event.
Now, this 20th century-old folk ritual has evolved into an international sport, starting in Hong Kong in 1976. Dragonboats are slim, 44’ long racer crafts capable of holding 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steersperson. Dragonboats are often decorated to look like a dragon with a colorful head and tail at bow and stern.
The Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival, sponsored by Save On Foods, began as a grassroots effort in 2003 with a focus on raising money for the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival Society continues to donate all proceeds from the festival to the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation with the goal of improved diagnostic-treatment for breast cancer patients.
Nanaimo’s most spectacular and arguably most popular summer event, the Dragonboat Festival attracts over 30,000 people with over 70 teams from all over British Columbia and the US, as well as over 120 volunteers helping to make the festival possible.
The Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival, held in Maffeo Sutton Park at Nanaimo Harbor, features a new race every 8 minutes throughout the race days of Saturday and Sunday. And it’s not just dragonboat racing – the festival also features live entertainment, food, drink, ceremonies, a farmer’s market, dancing, awards, and so much more.
Did I mention that admission is FREE?
The Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival 2014
July 4th – July 6th, 2014
For a full schedule of activities and full details on this event, please visit: www.nanaimodragonboat.com
Lodging for the Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival
Where better to stay for this weekend of competition, camaraderie, and celebration on Nanaimo’s beautiful waterfront than at a locally owned Nanaimo bed and breakfast inn? Celebrate this great event, help to fight cancer, and enjoy the local hospitality that British Columbia is famous for.