Dragon Boat Festival

Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival

Awakening of the Dragon

Every July since 2003, Nanaimo has hosted the Save On Foods Dragon Boat Festival. This event attracts almost a hundred teams with thousands of rowers and tens of thousands of spectators to Maffeo Sutton Park and Nanaimo Harbour. Dragon boat racing originated in ancient China in memory of the poet Qu Yuan who drowned in the Mi Lor River.

On the Friday before the actual racing, an Eye Dotting Ceremony is held at the Swy-A-Lana Lagoon to "awaken the spirit of the dragon." Against a background of Buddhist chanting and incense burning, Nanaimo's members of parliament dabb paint on the dragons eyes. After this ritual cleansing, the teams assemble on Saturday morning and the two-day series of races begin.

To view the photos, click on the thumbnails below.
Nanaimo, Dragon Boat Launch Nanaimo, Dragon Boat Rowers Nanaimo, Dragon Head Nanaimo, Four Dragon Boats

A team launches their dragon boat in the Swy-A-Lana Lagoon.

Two dozen rowers manoeuvre their boat into position.

The dragon head watches as drummer and rowers wait.

Four dragon boats assemble for the awakening ceremony

Nanaimo, Dragon Heads and Tails Nanaimo, Buddhist Ceremony Incense Dotting the Eyes Ceremony

Symbolic heads and tails representing the dragon boats.

Buddhist monks perform a ritual to rouse the dragons.

Nanaimo's MPs watch the ceremony as incense is lit.

MP Leonard Krog dots the eyes of a dragon.

Nanaimo, Police on Wheels Dragon Boat Teams Assembling Nanaimo, Dragon Boat Race Nanaimo, RCMP Officer

Security is tight at the Dragon Boat Festival.

Only teams are allowed on the wharf for the race.

Two dragon boats race towards the finish line.

An unflappable RCMP officer guarding the red carpet.

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