Trying to find a free, fun event for the family this weekend?
Look no further than the 29th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, there will be thrilling races on Meadow Lake, arts and crafts demonstrations, and multicultural performances. It’s rain-or-shine.
Around 200 racing teams, mostly from the New York metropolitan region, will compete. Each boat has 20 crew members — 18 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson.
There will be a Municipal Invitational, a Media Challenge, a Senior’s Invitational, a Women’s Invitational and an Educational Invitational. Sixteen companies will be represented in the Corporate Invitational, and $15,000 will go to charities designated by the competitors in the Charity contest.
On the festival’s main stage, there will be martial arts demonstrations, a traditional dragon dance, presentations of Chinese arts and other unique displays. Among the other acts is master storyteller Jonathan Kruk, a fixture at the event, who will tell “Dragon Tales.”
There’ll be tents for the festival’s sponsors, many of whom will be doing promotional giveaways, and nonprofits based in the area. Vendors with delicious, international food will also be on the scene.
Taking public transportation to get there is recommended; there won’t be much on-site parking. A special MTA shuttle bus will pick people up by the Mets-Willets Point subway station and bring them to the festival site. It will start operating at 8 a.m.
Echo Music Jam Band, which is made of area musicians and plays a diverse mix of pop, rock, alternative and metal music, will start off the musical performances, playing from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Immediately after the group plays, the opening ceremonies will start. The team of racers will be led to the main state by dragon dancers from Yee’s Hung Ga International Kung Fu Association, who along with area leaders will officially commence the two-day event.
From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, attendees will enjoy a demonstration by the New York Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Association.
You can listen to some traditional Cantonese music on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., when the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York plays.
At 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Mariachi Aguila y Plata will treat the audience to its take on the Mexican genre.
As the headlining musical act, blues keyboardist Bruce Katz and his band will take the main stage at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Katz has been in the Gregg Allman Band, Butch Trucks’ Freight Train Band and Les Brers.