Dragon Boat Festival

The San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival

Each September, dragon boat teams of all levels of accomplishment point their bows and their oars toward the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival. This is the largest dragon boat festival in the United States, which attracts around 130 dragon boat teams and 3,500 participants from Canada, the U.S., the Netherlands and a few other countries. You don’t have to be a dragon boat fan to have a great time at this festival, as there is plenty going on in addition to the 300- and 500-meter races, such as the following:

  • Great ethnic cuisine!
    San Francisco and the Bay Area offer an outstanding variety of authentic ethnic cuisine for foodies seeking new culinary frontiers, but the food at this San Francisco festival might feature the best variety of Asian-Pacific foods in one place. There are other types of food available, but why not try something new, unrecognizable and unpronounceable?
  • Craft items and vendors
    You’ll find everything from hand-carved dragon boat paddles to ethnic tchotchkes to silk scarves, t-shirts and much more at this market. Even if you don’t reach for your wallet, this is a cool place to browse the stalls and talk to the vendors.
  • Performances
    As you might guess, the performances tend to feature acrobats, Polynesian musicians, dance troupes and other types of Asian talent, but they all add to the unique flavor and atmosphere of this event. Don’t miss the thunderous Taiko drummers for rhythms you can feel in your bones!
  • Dragon Land for children
    Dragon Land is a pavilion designed just for kids with games, arts and crafts, balloon animals, face painting and lots of other fun things for kids to see and do.

The racers compete on the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay, but the festival, food, performances and vendors are located on Treasure Island. Admission and parking for the festival are free, but you may wish to park near 4th and Mission and take one of the free shuttles to and from the island, which run every 15-20 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also take the MUNI 108 bus to the event if that is more convenient. The San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival is free, very fun and a very unique Bay Area experience for residents and visitors alike. Check it out each September for a great time and one of the best views of the city and the Bay.