Dragon Boat Race

Newcastle’s Dragon Boat Race Returns!

Dragon Boat Race event this year is shaping up to be the biggest one yet with teams made up of Newcastle businesses, local and national charity representatives, and solo entrants who have already signed up ready to take part in what is one of the city’s only river-based races.

Boats, made up of between 11 – 16 rowers, with an all-important drummer who sets the rowing pace with an on-board drumbeat, will paddle a 250-metre long course between the Millennium Bridge and the Tyne Bridge with several boats racing at a time. Thousands of spectators are expected to line the route along the Quayside to watch the races and to cheer on the teams, who this year will be raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

As well as the action on the water, there will be a host of free family-friendly activities on the Quayside including face painting and crafts, creating a carnival-style atmosphere around the day’s events.

The North East Chinese Association will also perform a traditional ceremonial Chinese Lion dance along the Quayside to commemorate the Dragon Boat Race and to welcome competitors and spectators.

The finals and medal presentation are expected to take place between 3.45 pm 4.15 pm but timings may be subject to slight change during the day depending on the weather and the number of teams competing for the coveted title of Dragon Boat Race Champions 2023.

Tariq Albassam, Director of Operations at NE1 Ltd said:

“We are delighted to be bringing back Newcastle’s Dragon Boat Race to the Tyne and I can’t wait to get on board to start racing. Dragon Boat Racing is an exhilarating activity for participants but also provides an amazing display for supporters and spectators on the riverside.

Restoring activity to the river has been one of our key priorities at NE1 and the Dragon Boats are a popular way of helping to do this by bringing thousands of people to the Quayside and onto the Tyne.”

What is Dragon Boat Race?

Dragon boats are beautiful, ornamental colourful canoes used historically in ancient rituals to ward off misfortune and seek prosperity. The mystical dragon was the main focus of these celebrations. The tradition dates back over 2000 years to ancient China but more recently gained popularity as a fun team sport in Hong Kong in the 1970s, with teams and competitions flourishing across the world including in the UK.

How Do The Races Work?

A series of heats will run throughout the day, with participants receiving a participation medal with the ultimate winners receiving the 2023 Newcastle Dragon Boat Trophy.

How to Get Involved?

People can apply to take part as a solo fundraiser or as a small group and will be allocated boats to create mixed, balanced teams. Participants must be 16 years or older.

Will There Be Any Training Before The Dragon Boat Race?

All participants take part in a group warm-up session with a qualified physical trainer and will receive a full safety briefing before taking to the water.

Timetable for the day’s activity:

09:00 – Team registration at the registration gazebos on Wesley Square, opposite the Law Courts on the Quayside.

09:15 to 09:30 – Warm-up

10:00 to 16:30 – Racing and family activities

16:30 to 170:00 – awards ceremony

*The timetable for the day is subject to change


There are still spaces available for anyone wanting to take part with entries welcomed from solo entrants to entire teams. To sign up visit here