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Now known well outside the boundaries of Saxony, Elbhangfest has become staple that transforms Dresden into a giant festival of arts, culture and the environment during the last weekend of June. Named after the river that flows through the city, Elbhangfest was first celebrated in 1991 in conjunction with the preservation of two of Dresden's churches from being destroyed: the Loschwitz and Pillnitz churches. The ensuing celebration was so successful that they decided to hold it every year. The festival has always been associated with grassroots organization, as it is put on by thousands of area volunteers as an effort to get people engaged in the local culture. Soon, performers were traveling from all over the world to take part in the festivities.
Every year there are parades, concerts and dragon boat races, during which over one-hundred teams compete to build boats and race them down the river, with prizes being awarded for creativity and ingenuity. The concert takes place the Friday of the festival and features local acts. The parade occurs on Saturday morning and traverses the 7 km between Loschwitz and Pillnitz churches. During the rest of the festival, this route is lined with vendors, performers and exhibitions.
If you plan on being in Dresden during Elbhangfest, make sure you book your accommodations well in advance, as rooms fill up quickly during this time.