Long Beach Kite Festival

A Floating Circus Over Sand

The Long Beach Kite Festival certainly stacks up (no pun intended!) as the "greatest, grandest, kite festival on the North American continent."

That was the pronouncement of a very well-known kiting magazine based in the USA. You only have to look over the schedules of past years' festivals to be impressed.

More officially known as the Washington State International Kite Festival, this mega kiting event covers an entire week, with kite flying and kite-making activities organized broadly on a day-by-day basis.

For example, the opening day might be just "trains, arches, and multi-line kite stacks." Another day might be devoted largely to kite-flying competitions.

Spectators who flock to this huge kite-circus number in the tens of thousands. Like many similar festivals, the crowd has ample opportunity to fly something as well.


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On this site, there's more kite-making info than you can poke a stick at :-)

Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

Every kite in every MBK series.


A fair amount of imagery from these big events ends up on photo-sharing websites like Flikr, for all to see. And of course, anything with so much color and movement inevitably ends up partly documented on the big social sites.

Speaking of which, there does seem to be a general trend toward exploiting the movement of single-line kites and their tails. The designs just keep getting better, with the eerily realistic movement of many designs. Just check out those big inflatable sea creatures! Even otherwise fairly boring single-liners such as sleds and parafoils can now be spiced up considerably with the addition of fantastic, flowing tails!

On the Internet, it's not hard to get a good feel for the festival even if you have never actually been to Long Beach to participate in the experience.

The Long Beach Kite Festival is held during the third week of August every year. It's an annual event like most major International kite festivals. Besides the absolutely spectacular visual displays, kiting competitions of many kinds are also a big component. I like drawing things into categories, so here's another big one for this event—the not so obvious! There's more on these categories further down.

The Long Beach Kite Festival
Sheer Spectacle!

Long Beach Kite Festival

Isn't that what these events are mainly about? Here's just a selection of some typical displays which each have their own brand of eye-popping or smile-inducing power! By the way, that photo up there was taken at the Long Beach event.

  • Kite trains, arches, and multi-line stacks involve a lot of patient construction but can really dominate the sky and pull people in from a distance. Trains are multiple kites on a long line anchored at one end, stretching up high into the air. Arches feature many small kites side-by-side, with the line anchored at both ends. Multi-line stacks are two, three, or even more stunt kites hitched to the same set of control lines so they all carve out exactly the same paths in the air.
  • Kite battles are a terrific spectator sport! Whether it's rokkakus, Indian, or more modern types of fighters, it's non-stop action until the last kite remains triumphantly in the air. In the meantime, it's not uncommon for some of the kite flyers to end up in the sand too.
  • Sport kites of various kinds, more popularly known as stunt kites, are steerable with multiple control lines. There are always a few demos of these happening at the Long Beach Kite Festival, whether or not anything is specifically organized. Some are delta shaped with spars, and others are in the sparless parafoil category. However, when a group of pro's come out to put on a display, watch the crowd take notice of the precision, speed, and general flying skill! Often, long flowing tails add to the visual experience. Ultra-maneuverable quad kites (four lines) are pretty special; they are the helicopters of the kiting world.
  • Mass ascensions of various types of kites require a bit of dedicated space. The larger the festival, the better these work out, so they must be quite intriguing at the Long Beach kite festival. Here in Adelaide, probably the best example of this we have seen wasn't even at a kite festival! It was a world-record attempt by the Scouts. One small delta design was made available to hundreds of people, who put them up on cue. The strings were very short (to avoid kites tangling each other) so the result was an incredible carpet of low-flying kites across the beach.
  • Fireworks and lighted night flying of kites are two very different but visually titillating types of displays!

The Long Beach Kite Festival
Flying Competitions

Just to give an idea of the depth and breadth of this festival, here are some of the organized competitions at a past event. It's quite a comprehensive list! Although one day of the week featured most of the flying competitions, there were a few others scattered through on other days as well.

Note: Anything with "fighter" or "battle" in it is won by the last kite flying! "Ballet" refers to creative flying routines performed to music. "Precision" refers to stunt flying that involves guiding kites through pre-set standard figures in the air:

  • Individual & Team Rokkaku Battles
  • Rokkaku Challenge
  • DNAFKA Fighter Kite Line Touch World Cup
  • WSIKF/NAFKA Fighter Kite Challenge
  • Senior Fighter Kite Challenge
  • Junior Dual Control
  • Novice Individual Ballet
  • Novice Individual Precision
  • Open Pairs Ballet
  • Open Pairs Precision
  • Open Team Ballet
  • Open Team Precision
  • Masters Individual Ballet
  • Open Quad Ballet
  • Open Quad Precision

Notice that no age group or skill level is left out. There's something for everyone!

The Long Beach Kite Festival
The Not So Obvious

Although people come to kite festivals to watch spectacular color and movement in the air, there's a lot more going on than first meets the eye! Here's just a short sample of the less obvious classes of activities that happen at the Long Beach Kite Festival:

  • Camera workshops—presumably for the photography of kites, rather than from kites as some do!
  • A variety of activities, workshops, and camps for kids. For example, Kids' Kite Making, a staple of kite festivals everywhere.
  • A similar (but smaller) array of things to do for seniors! I'd better not snicker, I'm no spring chicken myself.
  • Judging of hand-crafted kites in more than a dozen categories. Looks and workmanship count, besides flying characteristics.
  • A plethora of colorful and artistic wind-driven things, whether they be flags, banners, spinners, windsocks, inflated figures, you name it.

The Long Beach Kite Festival

This separate annual event deserves a mention on this page, since it involves a lot of kites and is also held in Long Beach, Washington! The key to holding a windless event is to have it inside a large building with all fans, air conditioning, heating, and so on switched off! For example, one year the Windless festival was held inside the Ocean Park Elementary School gymnasium.

The Long Beach event in 2008 was the seventh Windless Kite Festival in a row. That makes it the longest-running indoor event in North America.

The kites flown at these kinds of events are so light that even a bit of air circulation would make things difficult for the flyers. In still air, it's just the motion of the flyer that generates some airflow over the kite. Under these conditions, a very fine degree of control can be exercised over the kite.

It's all about doing slow motion and low-altitude tricks. Well, it's not always so slow, since a very light kite can be accelerated very quickly with just a little effort! Kites can be yanked from one side of the flying circle to the other in under a second and snapped from the floor to straight overhead very quickly as well. The necessary airflow over the kite is generated by walking backward, away from the kite.

Although I've never tried it, some of our MBK kites would probably be fun to fly inside a large building. In particular, if the 2-Skewer Delta was constructed using the lightest plastic sheet and clear sticky tape, it would give a hi-tech light-wind delta a run for its money I would imagine. Anyway, one day we would love to attend the Long Beach Kite Festival —either the Windless or Winded one would do!


As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making on this site than you can poke a stick at :-)

Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads—printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

Every kite in every MBK series.