Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
Vision and Mission


CDBF LogoThe Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (CDBF) will be recognized as the premier organization celebrating and promoting the culture, contributions and accomplishments of Colorado’s Asian Pacific American communities.


The mission of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is to build bridges of awareness, knowledge and understanding between the diverse Asian Pacific American (APA) communities and the general public through cultural education, leadership development and athletic competition.


Chu Yuan

Chu Yuan, the poet who gave his life for his emperor, and inspired a sport that's growing in popularity today.

Dragon Boat Racing is an ancient Chinese sport that’s catching on across the US, as well as internationally, with competitions and cultural festivals held worldwide.

Dragon boating is over 2,000 years old and is steeped in tradition. In ancient China, Chu Yuan, a poet, warrior, and loyal aid to the Emperor, fell victim to plots and deception, and fell out of favor with the Court.

When the old Emperor died, Chu Yuan was unjustly banished and wandered the countryside writing poems he hoped would be heard and heeded by the new Emperor.

Despondent, he finally threw himself into the Mi Lo River. His devoted followers, learning of his death, beat their paddles on the water and banged drums and gongs to frighten away the fish from Chu Yuan’s body. Athletes all over the world still meet to commemorate Yuan’s sacrifice for honor and justice.

The sport has grown into an international competitive event, with Dragon Boat Races held around the globe from Hong Kong to Sydney, and San Francisco to London.

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival keeps the spirit alive!

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival debuted in 2001 at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver, and has been held there ever since. It was the dream of three Denver area Asian community leaders who wanted to showcase the growing and diverse Asian community to the public at large (and to each ethnic community under the “Asian” and “Asian American” umbrella).

Dragon boat racing was a unique competitive sport to host here, and to showcase our many local Asian cultures.

At the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the sport has grown from 16 teams in our first year to almost 50 competing in two divisions.

The first year, about 16,000 people attended the one-day event and the five food vendors on hand ran out of during the afternoon even though they ran back to their shops during the day!

In 2015 we hosted more than 125,000 festival-goers to our two-day event. We are the largest Dragon Boat Festival in the country, drawing far more attendees than even the long-established dragon boat races and festivals in cities such as New York, Boston, Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco!

CDBF now features more than 20 food vendors in two Taste of Asia Food Courts, a huge Asian Marketplace of gifts, artisans and organizations, a Wellness Village where health is the focus, Dragonland interactive children’s area, and over 100 performances on five stages that feature traditional Asian to contemporary Asian American culture.

You can enjoy Chinese fan dances, watch authentic martial arts demonstrations, rock out at the Band Stage or our Cultural Unity hip-hop stage!

And of course there are thrilling dragon boat races all weekend long that keep alive the spirit of Ch Yuan!

Awakening the Dragon: The Welcome Ceremony

The Dragon Dance is an highlight of every year's Opening Ceremony. (Photo by Claudia Hernandez-Ponce)

The Dragon Dance is an highlight of every year’s Opening Ceremony. (Photo by Claudia Hernandez-Ponce)

A tradition since the first Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the “Awakening the Dragon Ceremony” is a beautiful and spiritual ritual during which Buddhist monks chant as special guests carefully “dot the eyes” of the racing boats as well as the 75-foot Dragon which comes to life for a dynamic Dragon Dance.

The ceremony takes place as part of the Opening Ceremony and awakens the spirit of the dragon within the boats and blesses all the athletes who will compete.

It’s a great way to start off the weekend’s athletic competition, and a big draw for spectators each year.

During the pageantry of the Opening Ceremony, the race teams take part in a parade that is similar to the Olympics, only each team is encouraged to show as much spirit as possible, and represent their communities and sponsoring organizations.


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