The 22nd Annual Hong Kong- Northern California International Dragon Boat Festival returns on Saturday & Sunday, September 23 & 24 from 10 am- 5 pm each day at Oakland’s beautiful Lake Merritt, the 2nd year at its new location. Presented by the California Dragon Boat Association, audiences will be treated to the spectacular fleet of colorful 40-foot dragon boats as they race to the beat of Chinese drums.
This two-day, admission-free festival brings a weekend of world-class dragon boat racing, spectacular cultural performances, delicious food at our marketplace and of course kid-friendly activities in Dragon Land where games, arts & crafts and sports await.
At the heart of the festival is the race excitement, with nearly 120 dragon boat teams representing local corporations and non-profits as well as competitive teams from across the globe. Come watch your favorite Bay Area corporations, community groups and novice teams battle it out on the water. This year, a dragon boat team from Hong Kong will be participating in the races to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region!
Don’t miss the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 11:30 am, where Buddhist monks will perform a traditional blessing and eye dotting ceremony to awaken the dragons for a weekend of racing, joined by Oakland’s Mayor Schaaf and the Oakland A’s Stomper. The Opening Ceremony also features lion dancing and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir singing the National Anthem.
On stage, there will be Chinese acrobats, Taiko drumming, Tahitian dancing, martial arts, magic shows, and other special performances. Sit in our shaded area with picnic tables and enjoy the performances while savoring delicious food. Watch roving stilt walkers and Chinese drummers as they march around the Festival!
Speaking of Food…
When you get hungry, check out the food selection, including some of the Bay Area's favorite food vendors. Taste the cuisines of Asia, including Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Filipino. Try exciting varieties of Hawaiian dishes and fusion food including sushi burritos and chicken wonton tacos. Enjoy a cup of coffee or snack on kettle corn while you watch amazing races and great entertainment. There are also plenty of kid-friendly options to explore. Cool off with a smoothie, Boba tea, ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, or dairy-free ice cream beads. Then, enjoy shopping at our marketplace where you’ll find everything from dragon boat gear to specialty gifts!
The Festival Marketplace
Visit the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office booth to learn more about Hong Kong or take your chance at winning a free giveaway. Visit the Kaiser Permanente Health and Fitness Pavilion and get an airbrush dragon tattoo or take a break at the sunscreen bar. Visit the HSBC Lounge and watch the cultural performances, taste some Tsing Tao beer, or shop at one of our many vendors selling everything from paddling gear to arts and crafts to Oakland themed apparel.
For the Kids
The two-day fest is perfect for families and children! Dragon Land is an entire kids zone, filled with arts & crafts, games & prizes, obstacle courses, science experiments and more. You can make a dancing dragon, create giant sunglasses, decorate your own medal, or work with Junior Center of Art and Science staff to design and race a boat made with recycled cork and rubber bands. You can also play a variety of free games with prizes, climb in a real dragon boat, get your face painted or a temporary tattoo, and much more!
This year’s Festival will also present the new Sports Zone at Dragon Land powered by Net Generation with Bay Area professional sports organizations, including the US Tennis Association, the Oakland A’s, and the San Jose Earthquakes. Kids of all ages can try their hand at the Fast Serve Booth, an inflatable tennis cage, practice their soccer skills in the San Jose Earthquake’s oversized inflatable soccer goal, play wiffleball provided by the Oakland A’s, and test their agility in our inflatable obstacle courses.
Hope to see you there!