The Dragons are coming – 150 strong

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Queens is about to awake a sleeping dragon, in fact, 150 of them.

The borough’s annual sporting and multicultural event, The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (HKDBF), roars back to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Saturday, August 7 and Sunday, August 8.

Roughly 2,000 competitors, making up 150 teams, will convene at Meadow Lake from around the world for the Festival’s 20th anniversary. Teams will compete for cash prizes, trophies and other prizes in this, the largest and oldest Dragon Boat race in North America.

The festival attracts tens of thousands of spectators from around the world and will feature landlocked entertainment to coincide with the fire-breathing speedsters on the water. Dancing, music and food are guaranteed to keep the revelers busy on the banks of Meadow Lake.

In order to honor the Festival’s 20th anniversary, the HKDBF will host numerous events leading up to the races in August.

Before the Dragons are unleashed into competition, they must first be awakened from their yearlong slumber. This task is left to Buddhist monks, who will bless the boats during an awakening ceremony to be held on Manhattan’s Central Park Lake on Thursday, July 1.

The event in Central Park, which is open to the public, will also feature a mini-race to help the Dragons shake off the cobwebs and regain their sea legs.

Similar awakening ceremonies will be held at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens on July 13 and during Water Day on Governors Island on July 24.

In the days leading up to the race, the Empire State Building will be lit in the festival’s traditional green, red and orange color scheme.

Teams will take their Dragons out on Meadow Lake for practice runs starting Saturday, June 19. Spectators are more than welcome to come and watch; just be sure to steer clear of the creatures, their hunger before the official race is legendary.