PHOTOS: The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival kicks off with eye-dotting ceremony

Miyu Loo (right) dotted the eyes of dragon boat head while Bryce Butkiewicz from the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club supports the head. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)Miyu Loo (right) dotted the eyes of dragon boat head while Bryce Butkiewicz from the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club supports the head. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Miyu Loo (right) and acting Mayor Marianne Alto (left) dotted the eyes of dragon boat head while Bryce Butkiewicz from the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club supported the head. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)Miyu Loo (right) and acting Mayor Marianne Alto (left) dotted the eyes of dragon boat head while Bryce Butkiewicz from the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club supported the head. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
The dragons have been awakened and are ready for a weekend-long festival. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)The dragons have been awakened and are ready for a weekend-long festival. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
The Wong Sheung King Fu Club performed a Lion’s Dance to kick off the opening of the 25th annual Dragon Boat Festival. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)The Wong Sheung King Fu Club performed a Lion’s Dance to kick off the opening of the 25th annual Dragon Boat Festival. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Taoist priests did the awakening of the dragon ceremony to launch the 25th annual Dragon Boat Festival. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)Taoist priests did the awakening of the dragon ceremony to launch the 25th annual Dragon Boat Festival. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

The 25th annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival is now underway after a series of traditional ceremonies kicked it off on Friday afternoon.

To begin, the Wong Sheung Kung Fu Club performed a traditional Lion’s Dance, followed by a ceremony by a group of Taoist priests from the International Taoist Church of Canada.

The ceremony’s aim is to invoke the spirit of the dragon, and to appease the Goddess of the sea as well as other Tao saints and immortals.

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The priests, honoured guests and event organizers and young volunteer Miyu Loo, age 7, then went down to the dock where the dragon boats are aligned and painted red paint onto the dragon figurehead, thus awakening the dragon and officially opening the three-day festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival originally began in 1994, and since then visitors and athletes from around the world have participated in the event.

“Twenty-five years later, more than 2,000 teams – which amounts to 60,000 athletes – have crossed the finish line behind us,” said Eric Ages, general manager of the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club, which organizes the festival.

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“Over 25 years Victoria has hosted 175,000 individual race experiences in our Inner Harbour, ranging from novice to elite athletes.”

Another 2,000 paddlers are expected to compete over the weekend. Events will run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, and include live music and cultural performances throughout the day at Ship Point off of Wharf Street.

For more information you can visit victoriadragonboat.com.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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