boats racing on lake

The Seattle Dragon Boat Festival is proud to bring to life a sport that is at the heart of Chinese culture!

Every year the Duanwu Dragon Boat Festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar to celebrate the ancient poet Qu Yuan. This Chinese holiday is observed by holding dragon boat races along with other cultural foods and traditions. Some claim that dragon boat racing is the oldest team sport in the world and it has since spread globally with several clubs throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The ceremonial traditions of dragon boat racing are tied to ancient tales of dragons, believed to be the rulers of rivers, lakes, and seas, with power to dominate clouds, mists, and rains. Each dragon boat is large enough to seat 20 paddlers along with a steersperson and a drummer, whose loud pounding rises above the thrashing paddles and cheering spectators. Don’t miss this opportunity to support a thrilling competition as these spectacular 12-meter-long boats, flamboyantly decorated to feature the head and tail of a dragon, battle it out on beautiful Lake Union!

While the paddlers are racing on the water, a diverse on-shore program will include cultural performers, ethnic food, artisans, and a welcome ceremony honoring the canoe culture of the Indigenous peoples of the region. Kick-off the summer by enjoying the races, performers, and Beer Garden!