DFW Dragon Boat Festival
The DFW Dragon Boat, Kite, and Lantern Festival is a family-friendly event held at the Las Colinas Urban Center on the banks of Lake Carolyn in Irving, Texas. A presentation of the Marco Polo World Foundation to showcase and celebrate multicultural arts and sports as part of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the day-long festival features exciting dragon boat races, kite and lantern making, music and dance, food, and much more.
About the Event
Location: Las Colinas Urban Center on Lake Carolyn
Parking: Ride DART to Las Colinas Urban Center Station and the free APT Transit System will take you to the festival site. Parking is also available at nearby garages for a fee.
Dragon Boat Racing
Dragon boating is a team sport from China that began more than 2,000 years ago. Originally a part of summer solstice celebrations, dragon boat racing was thought to ensure successful crops. Now, it’s one of the fastest-growing water sports with dragon boat race events all over North America attracting thousands.
At the DFW Dragon Boat Festival, Lake Carolyn is the focal point of the dragon boat races taking place all day. Teams compete to be the fastest to row their 40-foot, 500-pound dragon boat through the 250-meter course. The boats each have a dragon head on one end which is part of the Dotting the Eyes ceremony, also called the "Awakening of the Dragon.” The ceremony’s purpose is to imbue the boats and their crews with dragon strength and secure the blessings of the Goddess of the Sea.
The DFW Dragon Boat Races are open to teams made up of community members and those with a corporate sponsor. Dragon boat teams have three key roles: one drummer who sits at the front of the boat and sets the rhythm, 20 paddlers sitting in twos and all rowing in unison, and a “Cox” or steerer.
Drummers from participating teams can also compete for the best costume. Costume contest entrants join the parade behind the Dragon Dance, another lively cultural activity that’s a part of the festival.
Interested in getting a dragon boat racing team together? Check out the registration rules, deadlines, and team fees on the DFW Dragon Boat Festival website.
Kites, Lanterns, and Chinese Hacky Sack
Did you know that the first kite designers and craftsmen lived in China around 300 B.C.?
At the DFW Dragon Boat Festival, you’ll also be able to learn how to make your own kite with classes that take place throughout the day. You can make a kite at the festival workshops or bring one for the kite flying competition which takes place in the early afternoon. In addition to kite-making classes, festival-goers are welcome to take classes in traditional Chinese lantern making.
For those who love competitions a little closer to the ground, try out jianzi, also called Chinese shuttlecock or Chinese hacky sack. In this sport with ancient roots, a feathered shuttlecock is kept off the ground with feet, legs, and other body parts―but no hands. Compete individually or in teams, and be sure to get a crash course lesson before the competitions begin.
Food, Music, and Dance
The DFW Dragon Boat Festival is a food event as well. You’ll have your pick of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, American, Barbecue, Indian, Mexican, Italian, and so much more. Bring your appetite for a feast of traditional and fusion cuisines.
Throughout the day-long festival, enjoy traditional dance and music performances from different Pacific Island, South and East Asian, and other international traditions. Plus, watch martial arts showcases by area schools. The festival also welcomes local city, state, national, and international dignitaries who share in the festivities.
Visit the DFW Dragon Boat Festival website for more information.