Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan’s Lake is one of Denver’s most colorful festivals

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is roaring back for its Year of the Water Tiger, following a two-year quiet that left the waters of Sloan’s Lake Park eerily still.

This 20th celebration of traditional, pan-Asian culture offers a free, family friendly day of fun at the sprawling west Denver gathering spot.

Past versions have drawn up to 150,000 attendees over two days, although this year is anybody’s guess. What’s assured are the titular races — these are elaborate, beautiful creations with both classic and innovative designs, competitive and fleet — as well as more than 20 food vendors, 50-plus Asian marketplace tables, dancing and live music, and “thousands of members of the community gathering for a sorely missed annual celebration,” as organizers wrote.

Don’t miss the beginning: to chase away negative energies, Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu will parade its 75-foot long, color-soaked Chinese Dragon throughout the park, the dragon’s presence symbolizing the banishment of “negative energies.”

All competitors will line up behind the dragon and follow it as it passes by the Band Stage (one of three overall) where each team will be introduced.

More than 40 teams will begin launching their vessels starting at 8 a.m. and running through sunset on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24.

The overall festival takes place 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, at 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in northwest Denver. There is zero on-site parking, so be sure to opt for biking, walking, buses or rideshare services. All events are free but donations to the not-for-profit festival are encouraged. Learn more at cdbf.org.

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