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Victoria Dragon Boat Festival kicks off in Inner Harbour

Eye-dotting ceremony opens 27th annual festival, back after three years
Traditional ceremony sees red pupils painted onto the eyes of the dragon at the bow of the boats, thus awakening the dragon. (Austin Westphal/Staff News)

The 27th annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival kicked off in the Inner Harbour on Friday (Aug. 12) afternoon with its traditional eye-dotting ceremony – marking a return to the event for the first time in two years.

Willie So, director of the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society, said it feels amazing to be bringing the event back to the community after such a long pandemic hiatus.

“The last two years have been really tough on the board trying to hold onto something that has lasted so long in this city, that means so much to this city,” he told Black Press Media.

“The significance of the eye dotting ceremony – it symbolizes the awakening of the dragon … by dotting the eyes we awaken the dragon and each of the dragons will bless the sea that we’ll be racing in, and (ensure) that we’ll be in a safe environment. This ceremony has gone on since I can remember, since dragon boats have existed.”

Although racing participation is only about 60 per cent than that of previous years, So said, organizers hope this year’s festival brings the Greater Victoria community together to capture the true dragon boat spirit.

The festival runs Friday, Aug. 12 through Sunday, Aug. 14. For full schedule and entertainment details, visit

ALSO READ: PHOTOS: Inaugural dragon boat festival makes splash in Victoria

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Austin Westphal

About the Author: Austin Westphal

Austin Westphal is the newest member to join the Saanich News team.
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