On March 4, Austin’s Zilker Park held the Zilker Park Kite Festival. It was a beautiful day — the sort that made lounging folks enjoying their Saturday want to go fly a kite. Preceding SXSW isn’t an easy task for an event, but the Zilker Park Kite Festival is a staple engrained in Austin culture. The kite festival is the oldest one in the US. It’s a free event that, on top of producing fun, raises funds for the prevention of child abuse. According to the event website, “The 2010 festival benefited the Center for Child Protection, Safeplace, Theater Action Project, Communities in Schools, Family Eldercare, the Dept. of Family and Protective Services, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and Boy Scout Troop 10.” Chris Owens is a photographer based out of Austin. He snapped this shot while attending the kite festival in 2011.
Every year when the temperature warms and the wind picks up, we buy a cheap kite to fly for a day or two before we get too busy to head to an open field. As an Earth Day Celebration, what could be more environmentally friendly than kite flying? Except, of course, for the gas to get to a place with wind and enough space.
Open fields are among the best places to fly a kite if you live in an urban area. Think the middle of a high school track for one option. Look out for power lines, though. Kites and power lines are not a good combo. If you live near a coast or a large lake, head to the beach. Other places to consider are fields in city parks.
One thing I like about kite flying, once you have a kite, it’s free. It’s also participatory. What a great way to join in with humanity in environmentally friendly fun. Here are suggestions–some based on personal experience, what people have told me, or in this article, “The Ten Best Places Around the World to Go Fly a Kite”:
1. Central Park in New York City. There is an Earth Day Celebration on April 20, this Sunday, at Rumsey Playfield. Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder are on the line up of entertainment. The park is also on the Holden Caufield tour of New York City.
2. Fano Island, Denmark. With Denmark being the happiest country in the world, flying a kite can only make some one happier than happiest. The family I lived with, when I was a student in undergraduate school, took me here as part of a weekend trip. It was gorgeous.
3. Great Wall of China, China. With China as the country credited for the invention of kites, the Great Wall is an interesting option for kite flying. Here’s an account of one family who found this to be the case. When I went to the Great Wall, it had just snowed. Then it was a place for building snowmen and sliding down the steps on ones bottom.
4. Jaipur, India. Even though the kite festival happened in January, this is a wonderful city to spend some time. A place to launch a kite is from the top of a roof. It’s not uncommon for hotels to have a roof-top terrace restaurant. I never tried it, but I bet roof-top kite flying would be a conversation starter. India is one of those places where everything and nothing is out of the ordinary.
6. Mission Bay Park and Mission Beach, San Diego, California. When I was walking the boardwalk at Mission Beach last month, the kite fliers were braving chilly weather to send their massive kites sailing. By now, I bet the temperature is perfect.
7. Nan-Liao, Taiwan. This harbor town, a bus ride from Hsinchu, where I used to live, is a popular weekend spot for kite flying. We did fly kites here and ate squid-on-a-stick that we bought at the nearby market. Andrew Zimmern gushed about this popular street food on the last Bizarre Foods episode on China.
8. Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. One of my cousins and his son bought a kite to fly here. When they stopped some place for lunch, they tied the kite to a bike rack so it would stay airborne. They left it behind so someone else could have it. While they shopped they could see it dipping and weaving.
9. Venice Beach, Venice, California. Also a great place to see kite-flying or fly one yourself in the midst of the cacophony of humanity. Check out the drum circle Neil wrote about when you are there.
And a place I haven’t been, but it was recommended in a comment on the 10 great kite-flying places article.
10. El Morro National Park in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. There is a kite flying festival here in March, although, the commenter said it has great kite flying conditions most of the year. As a bonus, this is also a World Heritage Site.