For the first time in two years, Vancouver's Dragon Boat Festival is kicking off at the end of the month with a new focus on history and culture.
Along with hosting the iconic dragon boat races on Vancouver waters, the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival will also feature performances and cultural programs on the shores of False Creek.
The event is slated to start Sept. 18 and will continue until Sept. 26, after being postponed earlier this year and cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The festival that everyone knows and loves is still going to be there," said Dominic Lai, the development, marketing and operations manager for Dragon Boat B.C. on Wednesday's The Early Edition.
"We're still going to have something similar. It will look a little bit different though."
Usually only taking place over a single weekend, Lai said this years' events will run over a longer span of nine days at a number of different sites, to allow for health and safety protocols.
"We're taking COVID very seriously. We've designed our sites to be as spaced out as possible to give people space to spread out," he said, adding that a vaccine card will be required to access events.
"Because there's food and drinks involved we want it to be as safe as possible for everyone."
This years' main event will happen on Sept. 25 at Concord Pacific Place and will include dragon boat racing, live stage performances from local artists, cultural displays, food trucks and beer gardens.
A new addition to the festival this year are a number of sites across the city that will be offering activities as part of the festival in the days leading up to the main event — including free admission to the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Exhibit at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and star gazing at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
"It's an important step toward reaching out to our communities safely," Lai said.