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On the water and off, Island dragon boat festival offers something for everyone

Victoria event features competitive challenges, food and entertainment options Aug. 6 and 7
The action on the water is the main focus, but there are plenty of other entertainment options available for attendees of the first ever Vancouver Island International Dragon Boat Festival Aug. 6 and 7 on the Gorge Waterway between the Bay Street bridge and Selkirk trestle bridge. (Photo courtesy V.I. International Dragon Boat Festival)

The countdown is on for the inaugural Vancouver Island Dragon Boat Festival, which will not only provide a new competitive experience for paddlers, but a wide variety of food and entertainment options for spectators.

Scheduled for Aug. 6 and 7 in the Selkirk waterfront area of Victoria, the festival is part of the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s Island Race Series and is expected to become its anchor event.

Besides providing a destination for locals looking for a way to enjoy some family time, the festival will draw hundreds of people to town and provide a boost to the local economy.

The races will feature the traditional 500-metre course as well as a 100-metre “knock-out challenges” sprint course.

A new challenge, a 500-metre flag relay championship, also promises to test the mettle of paddlers, stroke seats and drummers alike.

Off the water, the festival’s entertainment lineup includes popular ‘60s tribute band BackBeat; the Latin music of renowned local jazz pianist Pablo Cardenas; high-energy rock, soul and funk band The Prowl; the student and professional R&B musician mix of The Midnights; and an appearance by the young strummers of Island Ukuleles, whose members have been delighting audiences at home and abroad for more than three decades. Cultural performances will be offered by the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers, a Bollywood-flavoured bhangra dance ensemble, the Fiesta Latina Folklore Dancers, the Lin Hua Chinese Dancers, Lion Dancers from the Wong Sheung Hung Fut Kung Fu Club, the Polynesian-inspired Pearls of the South Pacific music and dance group, the Sampaguita Performing Arts Group from the Victoria Filipino Canadian Association and the ever-popular Uminari Taiko Drummers collective, whose members take inspiration from the roaring sea itself.

Along the waterfront area, attendees will find food trucks featuring various kinds of ethnic and North American specialties, as well as displays from a number of local non-profits, cultural groups and merchants.

For full details about the weekend, visit

ALSO READ: Volunteers needed for upcoming Island dragon boat festival in Victoria


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