Dragon Boat Festival: the low-down

Grab the family and head down to the river to see this fun-packed annual spectacular 

The River Cam in Fen Ditton will soon be reverberating to the sound of beating drums as the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival returns to celebrate its thirteenth anniversary. The Festival, supported by Cambridge Edition and Star Radio, offers a chance to see 48 teams battling it out along a 200-metre stretch of the River Cam out in Fen Ditton on Saturday 9 September, cheered on by hundreds of spectators. It’s loud, colourful, fun – and slightly crazy, in the best possible way! 

The teams represent businesses and groups from across Cambridgeshire and surrounding areas, all seeking to raise vital funds for Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT). Medals and trophies are awarded for the top three crews, the top mixed crew and the best dressed crew (as fancy as possible!), and there’s a superb incentive to top the fundraising leader board as the crew raising the most money for ACT will receive a special afternoon tea at SIX Panoramic Bar and Restaurant in Cambridge. 

There’s plenty to see, with a race every 10-15 minutes between 10am and 5pm, plus bankside entertainment including children’s rides, face painting, food stalls and a bar. There will also be a colourful Chinese lion to meet, t’ai chi and traditional dancing displays from the Cambridge Chinese Community Centre. Visitors will also be able to find out more about the Festival charity, ACT and the fantastic work they do in making a difference for patients at Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals. 

One of the teams racing is Chill#2, which is also a Silver Sponsor of the event. “Our biggest focus at Chill#2 is to support our local community and the Dragon Boat Festival provides an opportunity for us to raise money for ACT in an enjoyable and light-hearted way, whilst embracing one of Cambridge’s most celebrated events" says Frank Bechemilh, General Manager at ibis Cambridge and Chill#2. "Though we may not win the race, we hope spectators will be entertained by our attempts to row and by our costumes! Watch this space…”

Emily Willdigg, ACT’s Events Fundraiser is looking forward to building on the success of the event last year which raised more than £20,000 for the charity. “We are thrilled with the take-up again this year by companies in and around Cambridge,” she says. “By entering a dragon boat crew and raising money for ACT, the teams will be helping to raise much-needed funds for cutting edge technology, additional specialist services, vital research and extra comforts for patients that make all the difference over and above what would be possible through NHS funding alone.”

Entrance to the Festival is free and free parking is available at the Fen Ditton village recreation ground (follow signs).