Updated July 2023
Who doesn’t love kites? If you’re a looking for a festival that celebrates them, here are a few places to find one!
But first, a bit about kites...
So, there’s a bit of a debate about their history, but it’s likely that kites originated in China more than 2,000 years ago.
One version is that about 200 B.C. the Chinese General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty, flew a kite over the walls of a city he was attacking to measure how far his army would have to tunnel to reach past the defenses.
Another version is that kites were invented by two Chinese philosophers somewhere between 475 and 221 B.C.
Whichever version you believe, kites were originally made of wood and cloth.
It’s thought that Marco Polo recounted his stories of kites around the end of the 13th century.
Benjamin Franklin is just one of the people who used kite flying to learn more about the wind and weather.
The British, French, Italian, and Russian armies used kites for enemy observation and signaling during World War I.
The world record for the longest kite fly is 180 hours.
April is National Kite Month.
It’s estimated that 50 million kites are sold every year.
Bing Crosby recorded the song Go Fly a Kite in 1939.
The idiom “go fly a kite” means to tell someone to go away or “beat it”. Where does that expression come from? Not entirely sure. There are references to the phrase in U.S. newspapers dating back to the 1920’s, but in the end, the origin is probably literal. If a person goes to fly a kite, he has to walk away to do so.
Berck Sur Mer International Kite Festival, Berck Sur Mer, France
During the late nineteenth century, this town in northern France, not far from Calais, was the center of aeronautical experiments due to the constant ocean breezes and the updraft created by the dunes. Held annually around March /April, today, it’s home to the largest kite festival in France. While the link is in French, you can translate the page to find out more! FYI – the word for kite in French is cerf-volant.
Wildwoods International Kite Festival, Wildwood, New Jersey, USA
Held every year in May on the east coast of New Jersey, this three-day kite festival is the largest in North America!
Cape Town International Kite Festival, Cape Town, South Africa
Well, it's really held in Muizenberg, a suburb of Cape Town, this kite festival is the largest in Africa! It hosts competitions, kite-making workshops, lots to eat and drink! Fun fact: Muizenberg was allegedly named after Wynand Willem Muijs who commanded a small outpost in the area in 1743.
Day of the Dead Kite Festival, Barrilete Guatemala
The Festival de Barriletes Gigantes (Spanish for giant kites) takes place around All Saints Day on November 1 and 2 annually in Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, to celebrate the dead. Okay, kinda weird, but we have crazy things like the Easter Bunny (how do rabbits lay eggs anyway?). Dating back approximately 3,000 years, the Mayans regarded kites as a way to communicate with their ancestors and to ward off bad spirits. The kites are circle shaped and huge (15-20 meters in diameter!).
So the next time someone tells you to “go fly a kite” it might not be a bad thing!