Art and Sport Meet at the Free LBC Dragon Boat Fest

"The largest dragon boat festival in California" is one of SoCal's most traditional and picturesque on-the-water events.

What to Know

  • July 27 and 28, 2019
  • Marine Stadium in Long Beach
  • Free

This hot run of toasty temperatures keeps on truckin', which means plenty of people will soon dash to their nearest water source, all to sit on the shore and keep it cool.

But if you prefer your H2O experience to arrive with grandeur, tradition, beauty, and some truly thrilling drum work, then you'll want to choose the water found at Marine Stadium for your next aquatic idyll.

For that's where the beautifully carved and oh-so-speedy vessels known as the dragon boats will cut through the waves on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.

Dragon boats, as an art form, a sport, and a cultural touchstone, stretch back centuries in China, and while the Long Beach summertime showdown can't claim quite that amount of time, it is drawing near the anniversary of its first quarter century.

What can you expect at this festival, which offers sights on the waves and on the shore, too?

Lots of competition on the water, for sure, with dozens of teams squaring off in several divisions. The athleticism, power, and team unity are all exhilarating to behold, as are the boats' iconic dragon heads, which pull out in front of each other as the vessels speed toward the finish.

And as is the wonderful way with the dragon boats, you'll see and hear drumming. The music serves not just as the soundtrack to the incredible rowing, but as part of it, for each beat works in concert with the boat's forward movement.

On land? There are several must-sees at the festival, with the Shaolin Kung Fu school making a thrilling appearance, magic by Minh Tran, an ice cream-eating contest, and a lion dance, too, among several other presentations.

Entry is free.

It's a photographer's dream, a boat buff's perfect day out, and a perfect way to learn more about a noble sport that has captured fancies over a couple of millennia.

Are you heading to the water with this heat? Find your way to Marine Stadium for this long-runner of a thrilling competition, one that features martial arts, ice cream, talented crews, and, yes, those marvelous dragons.

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