Looking for a great reason to visit shoreline Steveston Village this summer? Consider the sparkling Richmond Dragon Boat Festival, a daylong fiesta of family-friendly fun that’s back for its annual paddle-tastic run on August 19.

There’s always a party-like atmosphere at the annual Richmond Dragon Boat Festival. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

One of B.C.’s biggest dragon boat regattas, this year’s event features dozens of energetic teams giving it their all on the calm waters fronting the historic village. But alongside the adrenalin-rushing races, there’s also a full day of activities to enjoy––and admission is entirely free!

Keen to return to this popular waterfront event or perhaps check it out for the first time? Read on for our exclusive insider’s guide. Then mark your calendar, gather your friends and family and sail on over for a great day out in Metro Vancouver’s most scenic riverfront community.

What’s it all about?

Formerly known as the Steveston Dragon Boat Festival, the Richmond Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the Fraser River shoreline around the village’s Imperial Landing area––a stretch of waterfront boardwalk just east of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Around 2,000 competitors and 80 teams are expected to participate this year. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

Running from 9:00am to around 6:00pm on Saturday August 19, an estimated 2,000 competitors and 80 teams will compete throughout the day, paddling their hearts out in short, highly competitive races that are always exciting to watch. Around 15,000 spectators are anticipated at this year’s event.

What else is happening on the day?

Aside from the races, there will also be a fun festival atmosphere to dive into. That includes lots of live music and cultural performances, a menu of tasty food vendors and a browse-worthy craft market where you’ll find cool creations from local artisans.

Live music and cultural performances add to the colourful festivities. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

And don’t miss the onshore display of a special dragon boat designed by renowned Musqueam artist and elder Debra Sparrow. Named One Hundred Years of Wisdom, it reflects the connections between local Chinese and Indigenous communities.

Tell me more about the live performances.

This year’s festival includes an expanded line-up of entertainment and cultural programming. The diverse playbill includes local performers ranging from talented vocalists Ginalina and Rachel Carino to powerhouse popster Hayley Wallis and her band the Bright Futures.

Juno-nominated Ginalina will be performing live at this year’s festival. PHOTO CREDIT: Ginalina Music.

And don’t miss Coastal Wolf Pack, a colourful and exciting Coast Salish performance troupe. Toe-tapping “one man party band” Luc LeMans will also be on hand, while the Hon Hsing Athletic Club will be bringing their kinetic lion and dragon dance performances to the site.

Can I bring my kids along?

Yes! The Richmond Dragon Boat Festival is a family-friendly event with plenty of appeal for junior visitors. That includes dedicated, kid-friendly arts and crafts activities around the site.

There are lots of family-friendly activities during the festival. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

Don’t forget to make sure that your children are fully prepared for a sunny day on the waterfront––sunscreen, sunhats and water bottles are highly recommended (and not just for kids).

Will there be anything to eat and drink?

There will be a full array of tempting food trucks onsite. Bring your appetite and dive into tasty Mexican, East Indian or Japanese-Hawaiian dishes. Or fill-up with a bulging gourmet burger from the popular BurgerHolic truck (we love their Spicy Buffalo ChicaHolic).

Red Truck Beer will be on-site to provide refreshments for racers and festival go-ers. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

You’ll also find roasted corn on the cob plus Lee’s Donuts, one of Vancouver’s most celebrated sweet treat purveyors. And if you need to cool down, it’s hard to beat a fresh-squeezed chilled beverage from Lemon Heaven. The event is also fully licensed which means alcoholic beverages will be available onsite.

Any tips for watching the races?

The action will take place in the water at Imperial Landing throughout the day. Snag a spot on the shoreline and catch a few races, then explore the rest of the festival site. Once you’ve browsed the market and enjoyed a live performance or two (and fueled-up at the food trucks), return to the shoreline for a few more races.

The ever-exciting races run throughout the day. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

Keep in mind that the entire festival site is a licensed outdoor patio this year, which means you can watch some paddle action while hanging out with your friends and raising a glass or two to all the hard-working teams.

Tell me more about the teams?

The Steveston waterfront is the perfect backdrop for the Richmond Dragon Boat Festival. PHOTO CREDIT: Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society.

Around 80 highly enthusiastic teams will participate in this year’s Richmond Dragon Boat Festival, including adult men and women teams, junior teams and senior teams. The races are energetic and exciting sprints, with spectators cheering from the shoreline. Most teams are from B.C. but some have travelled from further afield to be here—make sure you give them an extra cheer or two.

What else is there to do in Steveston?

It’s easy to plan an extended day out in Steveston Village. Browse the boutique shops on and around Moncton Street, snag an ice cream and stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf or add dinner at one of the popular restaurants––seafood recommended.

The village is also home to two renowned National Historic Sites––Britannia Shipyards and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery––and each is lined with exhibits illuminating Steveston’s maritime heritage. Add Steveston Museum and the Steveston Tram and you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy here!

How do I get there?

Parking will be in high demand around the village on the day, so consider arriving by transit instead––use TransLink’s handy trip planner tool. Alternatively, why not try Richmond’s free Discovery Shuttle bus instead?

The Richmond Discovery Shuttle is running on weekends and Statutory holidays from June 24 to September 4. PHOTO CREDIT: Tourism Richmond.

You could also take a sunny bike ride to reach the village. Several scenic cycling routes connect to Steveston, and there’s a free summertime Bike Valet service available at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery.


Richmond Dragon Boat Festival
Date: August 19, 2023
Location: Imperial Landing
Admission: FREE

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Tourism Richmond