Dragon Boat World Championships at Georgia's Lake Lanier Olympic Park Combine Competition and Culture

Wednesday April 11, 2018

Celebrate the first time this rich cultural event is in the U.S. September 13-16, Lake Lanier Olympic Park will host the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships. Credit: Hong Kong Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat World Championships at Georgia's Lake Lanier Olympic Park Combine Competition and Culture Celebrate the first time this rich cultural event is in the U.S.

September 13-16, Lake Lanier Olympic Park will host the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships. Credit: Hong Kong Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival

LAKE LANIER, GEORGIA--MARCH 2018

Georgia's Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP), 45 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta, will host the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16. This is the first time the world tournament will be held in the United States. 1,500 athletes from over 25 countries--including the United States, France, Hungary, Germany, China, Japan, Ukraine and Italy--will gather to compete in traditional canoes, adorned with dragon's heads and tails, while also celebrating the cultural heritage of this deeply symbolic Asian heritage event.

Origin of Dragon Boat Racing Dragon

Boat Races date back 2,000 years and have origins in an ancient Chinese legend. As the story goes, there was a well-loved patriot poet named Qu Yuan who lived during the 4th century B.C. Although loved by the people, corrupt court officials banished Yuam. Unable to cope with his sorrow, Yuam drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. Local fishermen raced out in their boats in attempt to save him, but arrived too late. In order to lure fish away from the body, they beat the water with their paddles and tossed rice dumplings into the river. The dragon boat races are a re-enactment of the attempt to save Qu Yuan and have become a major part of Chinese culture, representing patriotism and group integrity.

Ways to Celebrate

Make celebrating this unique cultural event a family affair! There are plenty of ways to get in the spirit of the ancient races and stir up excitement leading up to the championships at North Georgia's Lake Lanier Olympic Park:

Make Rice Dumplings:

Rice Dumplings are the traditional food of Dragon Boat Festivals. They are eaten at the races to symbolize the rice balls the villagers tossed into the Mi Lo River while searching for Qu Yuan. These delicious concoctions are made of rice, combined with different sweet and savory fillings, wrapped in bamboo leaves. Head to your nearest Chinese grocery store to load up on ingredients. Then, follow this step-by-step recipe.

Dragon Boat Crafts:

Get out the paper and glue and make a dragon boat-themed craft with the little ones. Try out this fire-breathing dragon, a dragon puppet and paper dragon boat. These hands-on activities are sure to get the whole family in the Dragon Boat Festival spirit.

Dragon Boat Books:

Gather the family and dive into a cultural read before heading out to the water. Here's a list of kid-friendly reads by Chinese American Family.

Cultural Presentations

Although you can expect to see steep competition on the waterway at the Dragon Boat World Championships, the races are more than just sport. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture with ceremony and ritual at the venue. Before the canoes take off, indulge in both Chinese and other cuisines from around the world. Watch traditional Chinese dances and other cultural presentations throughout Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

About the Race

Once in the spirit, cheer on the colorful competition on the flat waterway. There are two standard-sized boats. One holds twenty paddlers, a steersman and a drummer, the other holds ten paddlers, a steersman and a drummer. At least two boats compete against each other over distances from 200 to 2000 meters and above. Strength, endurance and teamwork are of the upmost importance to racers hoping to earn top nods.

Team USA will have multiple teams participating in the world tournament. Around 10,000 spectators are expected to attend the races at Lake Lanier Olympic Park and the estimated economic impact is predicted to be five million dollars to the Gainesville area.

Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are available. Contact Robyn Lynch at Robyn@LakeLanierOlympicVenue.org for more information.