That Was Different. This past spring the 36th International Kite Festival was held on the International Kite Flying Field in Weifang City, Shandong Province, China. Launched in 1984, the festival has become one of the oldest, largest and most popular festivals in Asia. This year more than seventy teams from sixty-five countries participated in kite flying competitions.

Every year, Gujarat, India celebrates more than 200 festivals including the international kite festival (Uttarayan), one of the largest kiting events in the world. The festival marks the turning point from winter to summer, a countdown to the harvest and there is evidence to indicate that the harvest festival has been celebrated for almost 5,000 years. The symbolism of this festival rooted in antiquity is the awakening of the Gods from their deep winter sleep. Legend has it that India created the tradition of kite flying for kings who found the sport of kite flying and fighting to be entertaining. Today kite flying is not reserved for royalty and it is enjoyed by legions of spectators as well as participants.

That Was Different That the first International Festival was celebrated in conjunction with the traditional festival in 1989. The first festival was truly an international affair with people attending from more than a dozen countries including Germany, New Zealand, UK, the United States, Japan, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Australia, France and China. International participation continues to transform the event with a diverse array of kites dispalyed and flown including; massive banner kites from the United States, sculpture kites from Italy, kites that mimic flying dragons from China, Japanese fighting kites and unique wau-balang kites from Malaysia.

In the weeks before the festival, towns and villages in Gujarat organize kite competitions. Uttarayan is such a huge event it has become a public two day holiday. During the festival food vendors serve specialties including Undhiyu, blended yam and beans and sesame seed treats. In the days leading up to the festival, kite sellers and buyers fill the Patang Bazaar market square where they sell 24-hours a day.

The event has become so huge that in 2012, an application was submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest kite festival in the world. The city of Ahmedabad is the where the main festival is held and people flock to Sabarmati Riverfront Park on the the banks of the Sabarmati River as it provides the most expansive views of the event. People also reserve space in the Ahmedabad Police Stadium so they can lay down and watch thousands of kites dance on the breeze.

Located in the Sanskar Kendra district of Ahmedabad is the kite museum that was established in 1985. World renowned for its collection of historic and unique kites from throughout the world, and with kite building classes during the festival, the museum is a major attraction.

You may not be able to attend or participate in an exciting kite festival in China or India but you can still enjoy the simple magic of kite flying. Stop by Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas today for all kites or kite supplies.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America