Outside of the kiting community, few people realise how active the festival scene is, unless someone happens upon a festival by accident. Kite festivals range in size from the small relaxed social affair, such as Teston Bridge kite festival, to the large multi-national events such as Dieppe International kite festival. As a club, KKF is involved in the organisation of events at Capstone Farm Country Park, and Teston Bridge Picnic Site (near Maidstone). Individually, or in groups, our members attend festivals all over the UK and indeed abroad. The following summarizes some of the events our members attend. For a definitive list of festivals in the UK and beyond, check out the Kite Calendar.
Held twice a year in June and August, Teston is popular amongst kite flyers as a relaxed affair. Held at the beautiful Teston Bridge Picnic Site, the wind can be extremely tricky if blowing across the valley. There are a few kite eating trees to catch the unwary. One of the joys of Teston is that it is one of the few events where flyers are not segregated from the public, which allows a unique level of interaction. Unfortunately financial constraints now mean that Teston's future as an event is in doubt.
Held annually on Southsea Common near Portsmouth, this is one of the few remaining large international events still held in the UK. Unfortunately, financial constraints have taken their toll on most other events. Organised by The Kite Society of Great Britain it attracts kite makers and designers from all over the world. The festival usually runs over the August bank holiday weekend. Saturday and Sunday are given over to the festival with displays of large inflatable kites in the single line arenas, and from some of the world's best team kite flyers in the display arena. Unfortunately space for public flying seems to be contstrained these days. The bank holiday Monday sees the international flyers departing, and the site is given over to "free flying" where anyone can come and fly with no laid out arenas. Several kite traders are usually in attendance so that all things related to kites and kiting can be found and bought or ordered, provided your credit card is up to the challenge!
A one day event organised by our friends at Great Ouse Kite Flyers. This event is held in the magnificent Ferry Meadows Country Park on the outskirts of Peterborough. This event is supported by many kite clubs from around the UK. There is an arena programme, which includes traditional kite challenges such as altitude sprints, along with displays by display teams such as Team spectrum. In such a large area, there is plenty of room for the public to fly amongst the many representatives from kite flying groups around the country.
Organised by our nearest neighbours Brighton Kite Flyers, one of the largest kiting groups in the UK. This event covers two days and is held at Stanmer Park on the outskirts of Brighton, near the new football stadium. Another event with arena displays along with large public flying areas.
One of Europe's larger annual festivals is held on the vast sands of Berck sur Mer in northern France every April. This festival attracts kite flyers from all over the world, including the Al Farsi Kite Team from Kuwait, Rolf Zimmerman from Germany, Robert Brasington from Tasmania and Peter Lynn from New Zealand amongst many others. The festival usually lasts 10 days, finishing with night flying and a firework display on the last saturday night. Every other year, the festival hosts the World Sports Kite Chamionships the pinnacle of team kite flying whiich the UK is fortunate to have the current champions in the Scratch Bunnies.
Being about an hours drive from Calais, it is possible to make a day trip, but be warned, at the weekends if the weather is fine, the town will be full and parking will become a major problem. Also escaping in the evening to make the journey home can be problematic. So it is much easier to stay for a few days - assuming you can find a hotel
Dieppe international kite festival is held every other year on the sea front of Dieppe in northern France. Again this festival is held over a 10 day period. For this festival, kite flying "delegations" are invited from all over the world forming a static display of kites along one side of the main arena. this is one of the few events in the west where kite flyers from the far east can be seen close up and in flight. It is not unusual to see kite makers from Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc all sharing the same air space making this a truly international event.
Dieppe also hosts the world fighting kite championships, at which kite fighting experts try to cut their competitors kite out of the sky using a kite line encrusted in ground glass, called Manja. Whilst it is possible to make Dieppe as a day trip, either by driving from Calais, or as a foot passenger on the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, to get the full experience more time is required, and again I would recommend staying if you can find a hotel in the vecinity with vacancies.