Charleston Dragon Boat Festival

About the Festival


Thank you for your interest and support of Dragon Boat Charleston and our annual event that helps support our mission – the 13th Annual Dragon Boat Festival. Cancer touches almost everyone, sadly. The Festival is about hope, health, and a coming together of people from all walks of life who want to celebrate life and #fightcancer.

On average, it costs $2,000.00 per person annually to participate with Dragon Boat Charleston (that does not include travel costs to local, regional, and sometimes international races). Our mission is to make sure cancer survivors are able to participate WITHOUT ever paying that cost because our goal is to encourage health and to lower recurrence. Last year, proceeds from the Festival paid the expenses of DBC cancer survivor paddling programs, nutrition and yoga workshops, endurance paddles, an 8-week CHOP outreach session for cancer survivors, two Novice Programs, the Carolina Celebration Cup -- a race just for cancer survivors hosted by DBC; and race registrations to local and national races -- the ultimate challenge for many of our survivors and supporters. Of course, we also paddle year-round 4-5 times per week and we conduct monthly fellowships to feed the emotional needs of people. It was a great year, because of all the amazing people who support the festival.

No experience necessary, we will provide your training!

  • Each team should consist of 20 paddlers and 1 drummer. DBC will provide your steersperson, life jackets and paddles. All team members must be at least 14 years of age (anyone under the age of 18 must have waiver signed by Parent/Guardian). Each team is allowed ONE boat.
  • A team may have only 2 club paddlers. A club paddler is defined as someone who, 1) practices/ed regularly with a club team, 2) has participated in races, 3) participated in any type of paddling clinic/camp. These rules do not pertain to cancer survivor teams.
  • A 10x10 tent will be provided for your team. No tables are provided.
  • Two practice sessions will be provided the two weeks before the festival, beginning April 27. The practice sessions will be scheduled after the Team Captain’s Meeting in February and as soon as your team pays its registration fee.
  • The Charleston Dragon Boat Festival races 4 divisions: Mixed (must have at least 8 women), Women's, Men's (maximum of 18 paddlers) and Cancer Survivors (must have 12 survivors on the team).
    • Festival organizers have the right to reduce the number of paddlers for any team based on water conditions and safety concerns.
  • We encourage all teams to decorate their tent and get decked out in original team t-shirts. Awards will go to best tent décor and team shirts.

Have Questions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Our 2020 Sponsors


If you want to learn more about sponsoring DBC, please contact Amy Brennan at

Participate in Dragon Boat Charleston 2020

What Our Paddlers Are Saying About DBC

  • Lynda, Cancer Survivor
    "I had no idea when I started paddling with DBC that it would become an essential part of my life. What started as having fun on the water in 2003 blossomed into a network of friends and a support group that kept me sane as I underwent surgery and chemo in 2005 and again in 2007. It’s an escape from the horrors of cancer, where I am accepted whether I am strong or weak."
    Lynda, Cancer Survivor
  • Belinda, Cancer Survivor
    "DBC provides a community that accepts everyone where they are physically, as well as emotionally, and allows them to fully participate in a true sport as a team member. Paddling provides a positive challenge for physical and emotional growth, combined with the beauty of the outdoors and just plain fun. It’s good medicine."
    Belinda, Cancer Survivor
  • Gene, Cancer Survivor
    "Having cancer revealed my physical vulnerability, produced great fear, and threatened my mortality. DBC enhances my physical strength and makes me fearless. The peacefulness of the water, the drum beating in time with my heart, and the communion between paddlers who have all faced a fearful foe, makes me feel immortal."
    Gene, Cancer Survivor
  • Lois
    "Water is an integral part of the Lowcountry. Getting outside to exercise is important for physical health and mental well-being. A person who has had surgery, been stuck in the infusion room or under a radiation machine (cut, poisoned and burned) doesn’t feel like doing anything. It sucks the strength from a person. You feel that you will never feel human again. You feel ruined. Dragon boating is an opportunity to get outdoors and become one with your body again. You start to feel like maybe you can overcome the cancer toll. You note your surroundings and realize what a great lifestyle the Lowcountry has. The exercise helps build your stamina and brightens your outlook on the future."
    Cancer Survivor
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