, ,

Dragon Boat Festival Sloans Lake

The annual Dragon Boat Festival on Sloan Lake started from humble beginnings to transform into one of Denver’s most anticipated events of the year. For seventeen years, Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver has transformed into a mecca for culture, music, and fun. This year, the festival will fall on July 28-29th and include tons of activities for the whole family.

Dragon Boat Festival Sloans Lake

What Is a Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that has grown in international popularity. The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, commemorates the Confucist pillars of loyalty and filial piety– the respect for one’s parents, elders and ancestors.

The origin story of the Duanwu Festival centers on the poet Qu Yuan, who was exiled from the royal house for treason. He wrote a great deal of poetry over 28 years, but committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River when the King captured the capital of his royal house. However, the local people admired the poet so much that they immediately raced out in their boats to try to find his body. This was the origin of the dragon races.

When the villagers couldn’t find his body, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so his body would not be eaten by fish. This is also the origin of the traditional treat of zongzis, or sticky rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped with bamboo leaves.

Today, the festival is celebrated around the world with symbolic dragon races, performances and delicious cuisine. Check out some of the activities and events taking place at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival!

Sloans Lake Dragon Boat

Must-See Events at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a two-day event jam-packed with activities, with the crowning event being the Dragon Boat Race. Festival hours are from 10a-7p on Saturday, July 28 and from 10a-5p on Sunday, July 29. You can expect to enjoy the following events with your family and friends.

  • The Dragon Boat Competition, where more than 50 teams of boaters will board the colorful dragon boats in a speedy race across Sloan Lake.
  • Performing Arts Stages, where nearly 100 shows of music, dance and performance will run on five stages all event long.
  • The Asian Marketplace, where you can admire and purchase gifts, artwork, crafts and novelties from Asia.
  • The Taste of Asia Food Court, where some of the area’s best Asian restaurants and chefs feature a selection of Asian cuisine.
  • Dragonland, a kids area with hands-on learning projects like origami and a kids stage for child-friendly performances and stories.
  • Colorado Anime Fest, which will feature videos and presentations of Japanese anime.

There are also several festival events you won’t want to miss, such as a traditional lion dance, scavenger hunts, Japanese Obon dance instruction and even a spicy ramen-eating contest!

If you intend to enjoy the festival but would prefer other cuisines, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is a celebration of all cultures. In years past, traditional American, Ethiopian, Puerto Rican and more have been available in the food court!

Dragon Boat Festival

What to Bring to the Dragon Boat Festival

Admission to the festival is free, however during past years organizers have worked to make the event cashless. Special charge cards can be obtained with your cash upon entry.

Because the festival takes place in the heart of summer on days that are anticipated to be clear and bright, we recommend dressing for the heat. Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses! Also, festival-goers may want to anticipate bringing extra funds for activities and food so you can fully enjoy everything the Festival has to offer!