January marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit, and in celebration of the Year of the Rabbit, Queens’ wildly entertaining Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (HKDBF-NY) will be held Saturday, August 12, and Sunday, August 13 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
For thirty successful years HKDBF-NY, the international, multicultural celebration and sporting event, has attracted more than 20,000 attendees throughout North America. It’s the largest multicultural festival in New York and the largest festival of its kind in the U.S.
The festival keeps up the age old tradition of dragon boat racing to commemorate poet and performer Qu Yuan who drowned himself in the third century B.C. to protest against his emperor’s policies.
Teams consisting of 20 crewmen–including 18 paddlers, a drummer, and a steers person–race across the water in colorful, custom-made teak boats, custom made by a small coterie of craftsmen in Hong Kong. The boats each weigh one ton and are colorfully painted with a dragon head at the front and tail at the rear.
This year 160+ teams involving more than 1,000 competitors from across the U.S. and Canada will take to the water.
The competition begins with an opening ceremony on Saturday at noon, joined by the traditional Dragon Dance and Team Parade. The race takes place both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus the “Hello Hong Kong Invitational” will be part of the competition for the first time ever, sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Beyond the competition there’s even more fun to be had by attendees.
A main stage will serve as the platform for performances by the best regional multicultural artists from across the globe, including the ever popular Shaolin Martial Artists, Dance China, traditional Japanese dancers Junko Fisher and Manhattan Taiko, violinist Daisy Jopling, and more.
Between performances attendees can peruse booths filled with traditional Asian folk arts and crafts along with a multicultural food court and a several food trucks.
Admission to the HKDBF-NY is completely free, and events will take place rain or shine. The full event schedule can be found here.