At A Chinese Kite Festival

... East Meets West

In some locations, a Chinese kite festival is a massive event complete with opening ceremony. Amazing eye-candy from all parts of the globe! Although China is not known for its kite festivals in the same kind of way as the U.S., it does have a small number of large and elaborate events which show off the incredible craftsmanship and artistry of Chinese kites.

Check out this 3D Chinese Dragon Kite on Amazon and you will start to see what I mean.

Major kite festival activity in China could be summed up in 3 words...

Weifang, Beijing and Tianjin.

Also, some other less known events occur on a regular basis in other parts of the country.

Of course, China has a very long history of kite-flying so a massive amount of this activity happens all year round in parks, fields and beaches. Many Chinese fliers sporting gray hair have been enjoying the hobby since childhood.

What kind of flying creations are you likely to see at a Chinese kite festival? Well, besides the imported modern styles of the West, there is plenty of exposure for the traditional hard winged, soft winged and centipede style kites.

The hard winged variety have thin bamboo frames which totally surround the paper or silk sails. These come in an almost infinite range of designs which represent creatures, often with stunning realism. Just have a look at that bird kite in the picture below! The kite was bought by a French traveler, while passing through Tiananmen square in Beijing.

The soft winged variety also look like creatures, but some areas of the sails are free to billow in the wind. Like the Western Delta kite, but with more variety of form.

Last, but definitely not least, are the centipede kites. The most well known of these is of course the Dragon kite. A magnificent complex head piece, with a tail of many smaller flat kites that sometimes can stretch for hundreds of feet into the air! Absolutely spectacular.

Expert fliers in China can make a single-string bird kite behave realistically in the air. Hovering, climbing and swooping. This contrasts to Western kite festivals where it's mainly the inflatable sea creatures that exhibit realistic movement in the air.

The joy of flying kites is much the same the world over, and the largest Chinese events attract some of the cream of Western fliers and their creations. Sport kites, large inflatables, arty creations of carbon fiber and rip-stop nylon, all of these can be seen at a large Chinese festival of kites.

Photo taken at a Chinese kite festival, courtesy of Olivier.

Chinese Kite Festival Survey

Some brief facts and figures...

Weifang International Kite Festival
Where: Shandong Province, eastern China
When: April 20-25 every year

Weifang has been a kite-making center for over 600 years! It claims to be the biggest kite festival in the world. Also noteworthy is the world-famous Weifang Kite Museum.

Beijing International Kite Festival
Where: north China
When: April each year

This city has been a kite-making center for over 100 years. Examples of kites from this entire period are put on show, besides all the modern kites from East and West. Large numbers of tourists attend this event since the city is well known for many other festivals and events.

Tianjin Kite Festival
Where: north-east China
When: Early April or late September, each year, for 2 days.

Yangjiang International Kite Festival
Where: Guangdong Province, southern China
When: October each year.

Guiyang International Kite Festival
Where: south-west China
When: April or May each year.

Yanqi Kite Festival
Where: An outer suburb of Beijing, north China
When: April each year.

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    KAP Mystery Solved

    Aug 25, 14 03:57 AM

    Last week I came home from a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) session down at Brighton beach, here in Adelaide, South Australia. The photos were a disaster, being totally washed out. Over-exposed, to be a little more technical. At the time I thought the problem was purely the position of the sun, relative to the direction of the camera...

    Well guess what. Down at the same beach today, the photos had the same problem - and this time it definitely wasn't the sun. Camera damage seemed a small possibility since the rig had hit the sand at some speed last time, during a white-knuckle experience with the kite in rough air! Which turned out OK, but that's another story.

    Anyway, once back home today, I did a little investigating with the camera, taking some test pictures from the back yard. It was a great relief to find the explanation for the bad images...

    It seems that setting a fixed ISO is not a good idea for this camera in very bright lighting conditions. It can cause the camera to run out of adjustment room for other parameters, like shutter speed or aperture. When the camera was allowed to set ISO automatically, the exposure problem disappeared. Whew!

    The Tyvek-sailed Carbon Diamond performed wonderfully today. It was, for the first time, hoisting the KAP rig into the air. Never has the rig been so steady for so long. Sway was almost non-existent. But whenever I handled the line the camera twisted back and forth due to the rather steep line angle from the rig to the kite. Without enough horizontal separation, the suspension lines do not provide the maximum resistance to twisting. It might be an idea to separate the attachment points even further, on the flying line.

    The 2 meter (7 ft) Diamond was struggling to lift the camera in the fairly light winds coming off the ocean. At times, people on the beach had to duck under the line from me to the camera! The camera was behaving as a sort of aerial tether point, with the kite flying at a steep line angle from there.

    Measured at shoulder height, the on-shore breeze was about 4.5kph gusting to just under 7kph. More of a day for the Multi-Dowel Sled really, which hardly feels a 280g weight on the line!

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe what's on offer in that message series!

    Read More

New! Comments

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