Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival Returns for the Ultimate Summer Kickoff

The details for the 36th annual Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival (June 22-23, 2024) are out—and this year promises to be bold, expansive, and reflective of everyone in the city.

The Festival will be a huge, energetic celebration of sport, art, music, and culture, encompassing the city’s first public drone show, a jam-packed roster of local performers, diverse and interactive activities for the whole family—and the largest 2,000-metre circuit races anywhere.

The Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival first launched in Vancouver nearly four decades ago when the city was hosting Expo 86 (the World Exposition). The Chinese community at the time—which was seeing considerable expansion due to immigration from Hong Kong—used dragon boating as a way to forge connections with the larger Vancouver community. Using six teak boats from Hong Kong, they held exhibition races at Expo 86. For these races, they drew upon a Chinese festival named Double Fifth, occurring on the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar, to create a distinctively Vancouver festival.

Fast forward to today and this originating festival has spread worldwide, with each place creating their own contemporary version. Through its many incarnations, Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival very much reflects the evolving and dynamic multiculturalism that makes Vancouver so vibrant. It has also grown exponentially, becoming one of the city’s largest and most varied festival weekends.

Produced by the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society, this year’s Festival is taking its events to a whole new level, showcasing the inclusive diversity of the city and the lively nature of its arts and culture, and food and beverage scene. It takes place at False Creek, including Concord Pacific Place and Creekside Park on Saturday, June 22 (10am to 9:30pm) and Sunday, June 23 (10am to 8pm). Admission is free—and all are welcome.

Over the course of the Festival, 6,000 racers will take part, representing an impressive 250 entries from Canada, the United States, and around the world. The races start from the Cambie Street Bridge every 10 minutes, from 8am to 6:30pm June 22 and 23. Saturday will entail teams competing for Sunday’s 500-metre semi-finals and finals, as well as the Concord Pacific Champion Race Series (starting at noon), which entails 100-metre sprint knockouts for specialty race events like the Breast Cancer Cup, Para Cup, and Pride Cup. Sunday moves into the medal rounds at 12:30pm, with the TD Premier Mixed Grand Final happening around 5:45pm. And both days conclude with 2000-metre Guts and Glory circuit races, which are the largest in the world with 18 boats competing simultaneously. You can cheer on the races at the many viewing areas. In addition, races will be livestreamed on screens on site, as well as on-line.

The Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival will involve not only racing, but also an exciting plethora of activities, pavilions, and programming. Get set for an awe-inspiring public drone show—the first in Vancouver—happening at 9:30pm on June 22 around the northeast False Creek basin. Watch the sun set as Light Up the Night occurs in choreography to local music.

The TD Main Stage will come alive (1pm to 9pm each day) with a diverse line-up of all local established and emerging performers—representing POC, Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQI+ communities and a range of musical genres and performance forms. Hey Ocean! headlines on June 22 at 8pm, with artists such as Eagle Song Dancers (3pm), Vox Rea (5pm), and Blonde Diamond (7pm) performing at other times throughout the day. Sunday includes performances by artists like Haleluya Hailu (2pm) and Queer as Funk (3pm), closing at 7pm with Manila Grey, the Juno-nominated R&B duo. See here for the full performance line-up.

New this year is the Concord Pacific Community Zone, where kids of all ages can delight in musicians, face painting, balloon twisting, and magicians. Plus, there’s a chance to win one of two $3600 RESPs in a Draw the Future colouring contest. Everyone in the family will also enjoy browsing the many handmade goods from vendors at the Artisan Craft Market in collaboration with Got Craft Markets. Vendors include Mountain Mornings and Slow Bottled Sunday.

You can visit a range of cultural zones and pavilions, which encompass arts and crafts activities, art demos, and community vendor/organizations. The Festival recognizes that it takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands and waters of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations, and showcases these nations’ cultures and artistic work in an Indigenous Cultural Pavilion. Make sure to also visit the Chinatown Pavilion and the new Pride Pavilion, which, in partnership with the Vancouver Pride Society, tells the stories of queer sports and community groups. Meanwhile, you will get the chance to view one of the original teak boats from Expo 86. Plus, the work of diverse local artists who have designed artwork for the boats used during the Festival will be found at the site.

In between watching the races, you can fuel up at the over 25 food trucks—showcasing a variety of cultural cuisines—in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival. Meanwhile, the Red Truck Patio (11am to 8:30pm), the city’s biggest outdoor licensed patio, will slake your thirst in the TD Main Stage Zone.

Overall, the 2024 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival will feature some never-before-seen programming aimed to dazzle visitors and enhance the experiential aspects of this annual and highly anticipated showcasing of sport, arts and culture, and community.

The Festival is easily accessible via transit (sites are across the street from the Main Street-Science World and Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain stations). Free bike parking and tune-ups are available at the Concord Pacific Community Zone.

So, put this year’s Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival (June 22-23) on your calendar, and visit the website for full exciting details.

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