What Is a Kite Festival?

L. Whitaker

A kite festival is a regional or international event, typically held once a year, that features a range of activities related to amateur or professional enjoyment of kite flying. Numerous kite festivals occur annually throughout the United States, where the month of April has been designated as National Kite Month. Popular kite festivals are also held in parts of Canada, India, Australia, Bali, China, and other countries.

San Francisco's Family Day Kite Festival is held along the waterfront near the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco's Family Day Kite Festival is held along the waterfront near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum during its first 44 years, the District of Columbia's Blossom Kite Festival became a part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2010. This festival, held in April, takes place on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. One highlight of this event is a competition called the Hot Tricks Showdown, in which competing sport-kite fliers display choreographed maneuvers to music, with the winners being chosen based on the volume of applause by spectators. This festival also includes a Rokkaku Battle using hexagon-shaped Japanese-style kites, in which competing teams attempt to ground the kites of the opposing fliers. Professional-grade or sport kites like these typically have up to four separate lines that help the flier to control a kite's angle and position, such as when performing acrobatic maneuvers.

Washington, DC's Blossom Kite Fesitival joined the National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2010.
Washington, DC's Blossom Kite Fesitival joined the National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2010.

Some kite festivals are particularly long-running. An annual festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, has been running continuously since the late 1920s. This event is typically held during the first week of March, with a rain date scheduled a week later in case of kite-deterring weather. Food vendors and family activities are also featured.

Kite festivals can occur at varying times during the year, as evidenced by Zilker Park's March event, the annual July festival in Berkeley, California, and an event in Cleveland, Ohio, that takes place every September. San Francisco's Family Day Kite Festival also happens in September at the Marina Green, a park along the waterfront near the Golden Gate Bridge. At this event, professional kite-flying performances are offered featuring unique and technological kite designs. Several kite-flying and kite-making contests are overseen by celebrity judges. A variety of exhibits also display information on types of wind power.

Kite festivals can be found in many international locations. A Canadian kite event, the Dieppe International Kite Festival in New Brunswick, is held every two years. In Australia, the Adelaide International Kite Festival is held every year during the month of March at Semaphore Beach. Said to be the biggest kite-related event in the United Kingdom, the Bristol International Kite Festival hosts approximately 50,000 visitors on the grounds of the Ashton Court Estate. The Portsmouth International Kite Festival in England takes place in Southsea during August.

The international festival of kites in India occurs each January in Ahmedabad, part of a religious festival celebrating the change of seasons. Kites also hold a religious connotation in Bermuda, where they are flown during the Easter holiday as a symbol of Christ's ascent from death. As of 2011, Bermuda was said to hold a world record for the highest-flying and long-flying kites. Easter kites are also flown in Guyana, where it is unusual to engage in kite-flying during any other time of the year.

In the People's Republic of China, a kite event brings crowds every year in April to Weifang in Shandong province. This area features a kite museum that is said to be the largest in the world. An international festival in Bali at Sanur Beach features huge kites that are flown by competitive teams.

Kites have been in use for many centuries, probably beginning in China. In some countries, kites have been historically regarded as tools, symbols of religious belief, or instruments of warfare. Both children and adults in many nations today enjoy flying kites as an outdoor pastime.

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