More than 5,000 paddlers from around the globe, including teams from San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Wash., have travelled to Hong Kong for the annual Dragon Boat Festival, held June 2June 4, 2017.

Set against the city’s iconic skyline, the Dragon Boat Festival will be held on Victoria Harbour as top local teams compete with international teams for 27 championships. Representing the U.S. are seasoned Dragon Boat competitors, San Francisco’s Lincoln Dragon Boat Team and the Seattle Flying Dragons. Both groups are traveling to Hong Kong for the first time. In addition to participating in the races, the U.S. based teams will explore and visit several of Hong Kong’s top attractions, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB).

“This year, the Dragon Boat Festival has attracted the largest number of athletes and international dragon boat teams in its history, and we are excited to have two teams represent the US during the event’s incredible milestone,” said Bill Flora, Director USA of HKTB.  “On top of participating in one of the world’s foremost dragon boat races, members of both teams will be immersed in the wonderful Hong Kong culture when not racing for the festival crown.”

Established in 1996, San Francisco’s Lincoln Dragon Boat team consists of 100 members within the student body of Abraham Lincoln High School, and makes up one of the largest teams in the Bay Area. Founded in 2008, the Seattle Flying Dragons Club is an all volunteer organization, competing in races throughout the Pacific Northwest region.

In addition to the spirited competition and heart-pounding action, the 2017 Dragon Boat Festival will feature for the first time, 14 eclectic food trucks presenting everything from local street foods to international classics including festive dumplings. Further enhancing the onsite experience for spectators will be local cultural entertainment, live music and a beer garden.

The real highlight of the festival is the fierce-looking dragon boats racing in a colorful spectacle, set against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Harbor. The special boats, traditionally measure more than 32 feet long, have ornately carved and painted ‘dragon’ heads and tails, and each carries a crew of 20-22 paddlers. Participants train extensively for the competition, racing for honor and for glory. Sitting two across, with a steersman at the back and a drummer at the front, the paddlers race to reach the finishing line, urged on by the pounding drums and the roar of the crowds.