Dragon boat festival set to activate precinct as celebrations return for Lunar New Year

Brendan Rees

Following the highly successful drone show in Docklands, the precinct is preparing for its next much-needed economic boost with the Chinese New Year dragon boat festival set to make a grand return.

After being cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the major event is back this year, which will see teams in brightly-coloured dragon boats race against each other to the beat of drums along Victoria Harbour.

The February 20 event will also treat visitors to dancing lions, cultural performances, food trucks, and family activities as they cheer on the paddlers.

Not-for-profit group CNY United will join forces with Dragon Boat Victoria and the City of Melbourne to host the event, which will be broadcast live on TV via Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.

Competitors will include corporate, community, university, registered charities, and social groups – with “some limited spots available”.

Craig Ryan, CEO of Dragon Boat Victoria, said there was a lot of excitement building for the event, with about 500 competitors from all over Victoria having so far registered.

Mr Ryan said the event was a great activation for Docklands, and visitors will be offered a
“dragon pass,” a free one-month ticket to participate at any dragon boat club in Victoria.

No experience is necessary for prospective entrants, and team entry into the festival must include a minimum of one training session.

Dragon boat racing, which is powered by dedicated teams of rowers, has ancient Chinese origins and has evolved into an international sport across the world, with the boats being a common sight at Victoria Harbour.

Docklands resident, Zijing Chu, who has represented Australia four times in dragon boating, will be competing at the festival.

“I am not only bringing my club Melbourne University Dragon Boat Club but also bringing my company Jesse Ant Architects,” he said.

“Over the years it’s great to see how the Chinese tradition has been thriving alive and well after 2000 years of heritage and culture!”

The event will run from 9am to 4pm and is free for spectators. For more details, visit: dragonboatvictoria.com.au/events/103137/  •

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