The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in NYC is both a cultural celebration and a sporting event, with more than 100 colorful boats paddled by teams of up to 20 competing for prizes and the title of fiercest dragon. And it’s FREE.
This year’s 28th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th, with 2,500 participants competing from across the U.S. and Canada.
The dragon boats race on Meadows Lake from 10 AM to 4 PM both days, rain or shine.
Largest Dragon Boat Festival in North America
It’s the largest such festival in North America, held annually in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park. The boats are works of art, hand-carved and painted by craftsman in Hong Kong, with a Dragon head at the front and Dragon tail at the rear.
Befitting the multi-cultural borough of Queens, entertainment includes steel pan music from the Caribbean and folklore performers from Mexico, plus, of course, martial arts demonstrations. Click here for the entertainment schedule.
Plus, there are demonstrations of traditional Chinese arts and crafts, martial arts demonstrations, the traditional Dragon dance, traditional story telling, and lots of Chinese food at the ethnic food court.
Last year Toyota had some of its latest models on display, and NYCOTC is hoping they will be making a repeat appearance.
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Dragon Boat racing history
The tradition of Dragon Boat Racing is an annual Chinese rite commemorating the idealistic poet and reformer Qu Yuan who drowned himself in the third century B.C. to protest his emperor’s policies. The locals raced in their boats in an attempt to rescue the poet. To prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, the locals beat their drums and splashed their paddles. This was the beginning of Dragon Boat Racing.
Directions to Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
Take the #7 to the CitiField stop. It’s the fastest and cheapest way to get there. Three choices from there —
Transfer to special MTA shuttle buses directly to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival site, walk (about 15 minutes), or take the colorful park trolley to the festival site.
Parking on-site is limited, but you can park at CitiField and take the special MTA shuttle with your MetroCard.