MORE than twenty fiery coloured long boats will be gliding over the lake at Swindon’s Coate Water Park for the annual Dragon Boat Festival next month.

Teams are being welcomed to apply to race in the boats, complete with a dragon’s head and tail, in the challenging 250 metre course to get their hands on the coveted Annual Dragon Trophy and medals, as well as raise money for local charities.

John Fisher, secretary and founder of the Rotary club of the Swindon Phoenix, told the Adver: “It’s a good day for the people taking part and an excellent day out for the family. We just need people to come and enjoy the day and hopefully the weather will be fine.

“If we could bottle up something we had a couple of weekends ago that would be great.”

This year the event is promising to be bigger and better with live music and DJs and a beer tent provided by local master brewers of Swindon Crafty Swines.

There will also stalls, summon wrestling, a climbing wall and kids rides and attractions.

Kevin Wingfield from The Silverbacks, who have won the race for the last three years, told the Adver: “We go for fun, we’re just going to enjoy it and have a laugh and see what happens. We hope to win but we’re just going to have fun and hopefully a good day out.”

The reigning champions, who take their namesake from another name for senior male gorillas, have taken on two female team mates this year. “We’ve got a couple of ladies this year, we’ve diversified, but we’re still the Silverbacks.”

“A lot of people in the team have sporty backgrounds,” said Kevin, who welcomed some healthy competition,“but don’t try too hard because we’re getting older.”

The free festival takes place on June 24 at Coate Water Country park with races starting at 10am and the fastest teams battling it out in the final at 4pm. 

Entries for the boats have a JustGiving page set up to fundraise for the chosen charities. So far there are a wide variety of local which will benefit from the day, including Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Swindon Guide Dogs, Swindon Down Syndrome Society, and nationwide charities Action for Children and Target Ovarian Cancer.

Last year the event raised around £15,000 for the charities being sponsored, with the cheques presented in September.