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Enter the fun on Lanier with Dragon Boat Festival
Annual event brings culture, competition to Olympic venue
Paddlers on one of the Dragon Boats dig into the water during last year's Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival at Clarks Bridge Park. - photo by Tom Reed

17th annual Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

When: Saturday, Sept. 8

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic venue on Clarks Bridge Road



6:45 a.m. Team captain’s meeting
7 a.m. Buddhist monks will bless the Dragon Boats
7:30 a.m. national anthem and raising of the flag
7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dragon Boat races (New heat every 9 minutes)
12:30–1:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies, dotting of the eye of the dragon and Asian talent presentation (schedule of performances TBA)
1:30–3:30 p.m. Dragon Boat races
3:30–3:50 p.m. 2,000 Meter Dragon Boat Race (Finish Line Tower)
4–4:30 p.m. 2,000 Meter Dragon Boat Race (selected teams only)
4:45–5 p.m. Awards and raffle drawing

The 17th annual Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is set for Saturday at the Lake Lanier Olympic venue on Clarks Bridge Road.

Competitive dragon boat racing originated in Hong Kong and is captivating athletes and audiences around the world, making it one of the fastest growing water sports, especially here in Hall County.

Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival has grown substantially over the years. From seven racing teams at the start to 72 teams in last year’s race, the event continues to be popular among paddlers.

Gainesville has been home to the event for the last 12 years due in part to the great venue on Lake Lanier.

Aside from the athleticism, many people go for the cultural displays of celebration. More than 6,000 attended last year’s event, attracting people from all over the country.

The colorful boats with dragon heads and tails hold 20 paddlers, a drummer and steersman. The drummer sits behind the large head and keeps a steady beat to help the paddlers synchronize their movements.

While the boats are the focus of the day, traditional Chinese performers will take center stage during the opening ceremonies. The festival also has vendors selling everything from sugarcane drinks to decorative Chinese parasols.

Buddhist monks will bless the dragon boats at 7 a.m.