Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

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Teams preparing for the race.

The Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival is an annual festival of dragon boat races in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. First held in 1993, the festival annually attracts 5,500 paddlers, over 70,000 spectators and may be the largest of its kind in North America.

In 1998, the "Pledge Challenge" was added as a charitable component. The Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation was founded in 2004 to raise funds for local charities.[1] The challenge has raised over $4.0 million in support of 41 charities.[2] The 2018 edition of the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival will take place June 21–24.

The event is held in Mooney's Bay, where the Rideau River and Rideau Canal split. Many of the Ottawa-based boats train at Mooney's Bay out of the Rideau Canoe Club.

Opening ceremony[edit]

Bagpipes perform at the Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony is presented on the Friday of each Festival weekend with cultural tourist attractions like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipe and Drum band. The Parade of Champions is similar in concept to the Olympics' Parade of Nations. Numerous dignitaries attend including the Mayor of Ottawa. Other special guests include CTV Ottawa media personalities and other prominent members of the Ottawa community. The Opening Ceremony also features ancient Asian cultural celebrations to pay respect to the cultural heritage of dragon boat racing. Past performers include The Success Lion Dance Troupe, which celebrates a 3000-year-old tradition that symbolizes prosperity, luck and happiness, and The Oto-Wa Taiko Japanese drummers.


The races consist of different categories (challenges) for the registered teams. Teams are broken down into categories allowing them to compete against other teams of like background.

  • Accessibility Challenge Cup - for persons with a disability, their caregivers and supporters
  • Breast Cancer Survivors Challenge Cup - a breast cancer survivor team category and holds an annual flower ceremony on the water honoring those affected by breast cancer. This has become an integral part of the festival and has encouraged many breast cancer survivor teams to participate. Many accompanying family and friends also make the trip to show their support and honor survivors.
  • Community Challenge Cup - teams representing community organizations including charities and non-for-profits.
  • Youth Challenge Cup - participants who are a minimum of 12 years of age and a maximum of 17 years of age before June 1 of the given year, steer-person and drummer exempt.
  • Club Crew World Championship Teams - Dragon Boat Canada Central Region sanctioned events, for the "Sue Holloway Cup"
Concert spectators at the 2016 festival

Features & attractions[edit]

  • Free Concerts
  • Children's area
  • Vendors, artisans, concessionaires, and exhibitors


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ ODBF (2016-12-16), OBDF HAS RAISED OVER $4 MILLION IN SUPPORT OF 41 CHARITIES, retrieved 2018-04-05

External links[edit]