The 2016 Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival returns to Marine Stadium near the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach this weekend. This annual race brings teams from across the world here to compete and race their dragon boats against each other, eventually winning the tournament’s grand prize following the finals on Sunday afternoon. Registration to participate in the races closed a while ago, but spectators of all ages may still attend and watch the races for free. Although this festival appears as an event for the participants only, the festival features a handful of things to do that non-racers will also enjoy.
As mentioned above, this festival features other activities besides the racing that non-racers will enjoy. A tent in the parking lot will house a small stage for traditional Chinese performances, such as balancing acts, music, dancing, martial arts, and more. Nearby this tent, all attendees will find the vendor village, complete with booths selling food, drinks, cold treats, merchandise, apparel, accessories, and more.
The hundreds of teams set up their stations along Paoli Way, past the vendor village. Strolling down Paoli Way allows everyone a glimpse into the areas of the teams, but also allows spectators to walk down to the shore and watch the races, which all starts at the north end of Marine Stadium.
With everything that the Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival has to offer, everyone comes here mainly to watch the races. However, unlike most water-based races, dragon boats involve more than simply your sight. Any sound can shake the air, but a dragon boat team shakes the heart! The combination of the drummer and paddlers working in unity really gets your heart pounding, similar to the feel of a NASCAR race or the Long Beach Grand Prix. When a race actually starts, spectators simply hear drumming, the drummer shouting commands at the paddlers, the paddlers chanting, and the sweep retorting the commands. One cannot help but get excited and cheer on a team, despite not knowing which teams to cheer for!
The Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival runs on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, providing ample time to attend. On both days, the main festival area opens at 9am and runs until 6pm. The actual races follow their own schedule, so please refer to the website, linked above, for the race schedule. Spectators can find plenty of free street parking on Naples Island, Belmont Park, or Belmont Shore – do not attempt to park in the Marine Stadium parking lot, as that entrance will remain closed to the festival goers. Find some time this weekend to bring your friends, family, and pets down to watch these races – as one of the world’s grandest dragon boat races, you ought to catch a dragon boat race in all its glory.