The Most Spectacular Dragon Boat Races from Around the World

Between Races at Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival | © Ken Louie / Wikimedia
Between Races at Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival | © Ken Louie / Wikimedia
Photo of Ciaran McEneaney
11 January 2019

Dragon Boat Festival is one of the biggest events of the year in Taiwan, with the whole island getting caught up in dragon boat race fever. But far from being a local festival unknown to people outside of Asia, dragon boat racing now has a massive international following with many associations and clubs located around the world.

Taiwan’s dragon boat races are usually held in a different location each year. It seems that many of the international clubs and associations follow suit with their races and qualifying events held throughout their respective regions. However, when it comes to the final race-day event, there are a few races that always catch the eye. Here we take a look at some of the most spectacular locations to have ever hosted a dragon boat race.


With a thriving Taiwanese community, it’s no surprise that Vancouver’s Dragon Boat Festival is such a massive event in the city’s social calendar. Held in the waters of False Creek with the city’s skyline as a backdrop, this particular race is an event that both locals and tourists flock to each year. With concerts, children’s events and, of course, the race itself, this is possibly one of the most popular annual races outside Asia.

False Creek | © Joe Mabel / Wikimedia


There’s no shortage of stunning locations in Miami where a dragon boat club can put their boats in the water, but it’s the island town of Key Biscayne that holds the honor of hosting the annual dragon boat race. This incredibly scenic town has a holiday atmosphere throughout the year (and plenty of places to stay), so it’s the perfect setting for a fun race event.

Key Biscayne sunset | © Lonni Besançon / Flickr


Auckland’s Dragon Boat Association boasts over 500 members, so when it comes to the final race day, there’s never a shortage of teams ready to take to the water. Each year the race is held in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbor, and it often coincides with the city’s Chinese New Year celebrations.


Sydney’s Dragon Boat Festival is held each year in Darling Harbour where racegoers lucky enough to book early can enjoy the races from the area’s many fine restaurants that overlook the water. Held in February, this race is the biggest event in the southern hemisphere with as many as 5,000 paddlers making waves in the harbour.

Dragon Boat Races | © Marc Dalmulder / Flickr


Salt River and Tempe Town Lake is the setting for the Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Race Festival which is now in its fourteenth year. Arizona is not quite the location that many would associate with dragon boats, but the local association has done an amazing job at building up public interest in what has become one of the most popular events of the year in Phoenix.


A paradise setting, the island of Phuket has its own dragon boat racing club that works hard to promote the sport within the local community. They hold their races on Nai Harn Lake, and although they don’t celebrate with a festival, it’s possibly one of the most idyllic locations in the world to paddle a dragon boat.


Berlin’s biggest dragon boat club holds an annual race at the Olympic race course in Berlin Grünau. It’s known as the Berlin City Cup and attracts thousands of racegoers and over 70 teams each year. It’s one of the most popular races in the European race calendar and certainly worth visiting if you’re in Berlin during July.

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