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South Island Dragon Boat Festival

About the Festival | 2023 Results | Registration | Accommodations | Volunteers | Paddlers’ Village | Festival Cancellation/Refund Policy

The 21st Nanaimo Festival is relocating to Victoria’s Gorge Waterway over the 13-14 July weekend for the 2024 year. Moving from Nanaimo is unexpected, but your festival hosts and production team are providing the same great weekend of racing, team amenities and paddler fun–with no increase to registration fees. Indeed, we’ve been able to provide fee reductions for breast cancer survivor teams in recognition of their 20+ years of dedication to this fun annual festival (see below). The 2024 Nanaimo Festival is running this year as the “South Island Dragon Boat Festival.” For the 2024 race season, we’ve relocated to Victoria’s Gorge Waterway, part of BC’s capital city’s harbour network. We’ve arranged for lots of free parking, a beautiful paddler’s village, food vendors, beer garden, local hotels for visitors, door-to-door harbour ferry service to-and-from the race site from Victoria’s inner harbour…and a full weekend of medal-winning 500m racing. 

Here’s what hasn’t changed. The dates are the same; and the same festival race officials and race production team who’ve hosted the Nanaimo festival for more than ten years are waiting to greet you. And we haven’t forgotten Nanaimo Festival favourites, the Breast Cancer Challenge races, and the end-of-weekend Guts-and-Glory Championship, an event we make available to every team that wants to participate.

Our 2024 Victoria-based races feature a full two-day 500m festival, and guarantees a minimum of 4 races for everyone, and includes open-access 1500m Guts-and-Glory championship races and a Sunday Survivor Challenge for survivor teams. The weekend has broad western representation, with teams from BC’s lower mainland; from Alberta, including Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge; from Oregon and Washington State; and from Vancouver Island. 

For visitors to the island, we’ve sourced and obtained discounts for local accommodations, as well as partnering arrangements with Victoria teams to help you with tent amenities and tips and tricks to enjoy the south island area. For island teams, we know you’ll enjoy the event and recognize the same friends you’ve met at the start and finish lines for many years. Even better, we’ve added new options for island teams…

NEW: Sunday-only options for Vancouver Island mixed, women’s and survivor teams. The 2-day South Island Festival is making its second race day available to mid- and north-island teams who want to participate at a local 1-day event planned for Saturday in Nanaimo. This option is being offered courtesy of the Nanaimo Paddling Centre and FGPC in recognition of the Nanaimo community’s effort to help rebuild the Nanaimo festival for 2025 and the years to come. The Sunday-only choice provides mid and north island teams with an opportunity to join South Island Festival’s visiting teams for a final day of racing on Sunday in Victoria if they choose.

AND… We’ve considered island survivor teams, too. Island-based survivor teams who choose to attend Nanaimo’s one-day Saturday event can join with the South Island Festival’s survivor teams on Sunday, free of charge. This option allows mid- and north-island survivor teams to join full-weekend survivor teams in Victoria on Sunday for the final day of racing, including 500m women’s heats and participation in Sunday’s Survivor Challenge. See below for details.

AND… We’ve extended the South Island Festival early-bird deadline to Monday 22 April. See below for registration details.

Location: Fairway Gorge Paddling Club, 2940 Jutland Road, Victoria

July 13 and 14, 2024

Registration Fees

This weekend of 500 M racing includes Women’s and Mixed categories. Everyone is guaranteed 4 races, weather permitting.

  • Early Bird (until April 22, 2024): $1200 including GST
  • Early Bird for Breast Cancer Survivor Teams (until April 22, 2024): $600 including GST
  • Early Bird for Sunday Only for Mid and North Vancouver Island Teams (until April 22, 2024) : $600 including GST
  • Sunday Only for Mid and North Vancouver Island Breast Cancer Survivor Teams: $0.00
  • Regular (after April 22, 2024): $1600 including GST
  • Regular for Breast Cancer Survivor Teams (after April 22, 2024): $800 including GST
  • Sunday Only for Mid and North Vancouver Island Teams (after April 22, 2024): $800

As we approach the festival weekend we will be adding information to this web page including the schedule of events, transportation, merchandise, maps and directions and more.  Participating teams will be provided a complete Race Information Package as usual one week before the event.


We’re looking for people to do something great and volunteer at the South Island Dragon Boat Festival. Not only will you be helping to facilitate one of the island’s signature summer festivals, you’ll be an invaluable part of a summer event featuring athletes and spectators, beer gardens, music and more.

To become one of our valued volunteers, click here for more information and to sign up.

Site Map

Paddlers’ Village

SIDBF’s paddlers’ village will run on either side of Jutland Road adjacent to FGPC’s facility at 2940 Jutland Road. Tents are provided, and pre-assigned. Tent numbers will be provided to team captains when they check in. Teams must locate themselves at their assigned tent number and location for the purposes of marshalling and safety. Note that security staff will patrol the race site and Paddlers’ Village after-hours, but the tent area is not fenced or secure. Paddlers should not leave valuables and personal items unattended. FGPC is not responsible for lost or stolen items. 

Location: Refer to map for location of Paddlers’ Village and event parking 

Canadian Springs water coolers will be available in the Paddlers’ Village area and at locations around the event site. Please bring reusable water bottles. 

Paddlers are encouraged to bring their own paddles and PFDs, but a limited quantity of “club” equipment will be available for racing. Note: FGPC-provided PFDs and paddles must be returned by paddlers after every race. Club-supplied paddles and PFDs are not permitted in the Paddlers’ Village.


We have a selection of hotels & motels who have a special paddlers’ rate for our festivals. If you contact a hotel please be sure to mention the “South Island Dragon Boat Festival in July”.

  • Sandman Hotel – speak with Sylvia Wong (walking distance from event site and on a good bus route for travelling and visiting) 
  • Vic Boutique Motel – speak with Storm Jesperson (walking distance from event site and on a good bus route for travelling to downtown)
  • Accent Inn – discount code “PADDLE” (not quite walking distance – but nice and easy for transportation) 
  • ZED Motel discount code “PADDLE” (walking distance from event site and on a good bus route) 

We have a couple of hotels in downtown Victoria by the Inner Harbour:

Both of the downtown hotels are close to stops for the harbour ferry system, which has a stop at our venue. A group rate can be arranged. Click here for more information.

Food Vendors

The festival will feature a wide variety of vendors including food truck, retail, and informational vendors. Click here to apply to be a vendor at this festival.

Festival Cancellation/Refund Policy

There will be 25% administrative fee for all withdrawals. The final date to withdraw a team from the festival is June 21, 2024. There will be no refunds of any type after this date, including if the festival is cancelled due to safety reasons.